Commercial Suborbital Flights and Vehicle Development

Dr. Alan Stern

Some notes from today’s Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference concerning upcoming flights and vehicle development. In this report: Southwest Research Institute, XCOR, Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Blue Origin and Teachers in Space.

Southwest Research Institute – Alan Stern

* Eight flights on XCOR and Virgin Galactic vehicles, with options for up to 17 missions * SwRI scientists will fly after XCOR and Virgin Galactic have FAA licenses * XCOR flights will be on Lynx Mark I (maximum altitude of 61 kilometers) * Expect that flights will have occurred by the 2013 Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference * Previously spent nearly a decade to fly seven microgravity experiments; will be able to do eight flights within a year * Three experiments already prepared for suborbital flights * Flights will involve a “significant number of experiments” * Putting scientists back in the loop on experiments — less remote control * Scientists on board reduce the cost of automation, they can react to data on a real-time basis and make changes

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