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Inside the Big Suborbital Research Tent

15 Nov 2009, 00:52 UTC
Inside the Big Suborbital Research Tent
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

I'm now providing support to a new NASA research program that's collaborating with the commercial suborbital vehicle providers who plan to transport personal spaceflight customers and/or their research payloads to altitudes up to about 100 km. In the process, the vehicle and its contents will be exposed to several minutes of microgravity. This emerging opportunity to research the novel environment inside and the unexplored environment outside the spacecraft in the upper atmosphere, is seen as a game-changer. NASA is developing this program in support of its congressional commercial space utilization mandate to facilitate access to "Near-Space" on private sector vehicles by NASA-sponsored researchers, engineers, technologists, educators and students. As stated in a recent program summary, "The goal of the Commercial ReUsable Suborbital Research Program is to facilitate regular, frequent and predictable access to the edge of space at a reasonable cost with easy recovery of intact payloads". This is incredibly good news. It can be viewed as a major milestone leading to the "Holy Grail" of space exploration, the much lower cost and frequent access to space. Several of the Near-Space companies would like to eventually extend the reach of their reusable suborbital space planes to Earth orbit, no small ...

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