suborbital: May 2011 Archives

Starfighters Ready to Launch Satellites

"F-104 jet fighters just like the ones astronauts trained in for decades will become a more regular part of the skyscape above NASA's Kennedy Space Center as a private company expands its fleet of jets with plans to conduct more research flights, launch very small satellites into space and even take paying passengers into the stratosphere. The developments come four years after the company made its first flight from the Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, at Kennedy in April 2007."

NASA Solicitation: Flight and Payload Services for Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles

"This notice is issued by the NASA/DFRC to post a draft RFP via the internet, and solicit responses from interested parties. This document is for information and planning purposes and to allow industry the opportunity to verify reasonableness and feasibility of the requirement, as well as promote competition."

Zero Gravity Corporation Awarded Safety Approval from the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation

"The Safety Approval, granted on April 20, 2011 and in effect for five years, allows ZERO-G to offer reduced gravity parabolic flight profiles to prospective suborbital launch operators to meet the applicable components of the crew qualification and training requirements outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (14 C.F.R. S 460.5). These regulations require crew members to complete training on how to carry out their roles on board or on the ground and to demonstrate the ability to withstand the stresses of spaceflight, which may include high acceleration or deceleration, microgravity, and vibration."

Masten Signs Contract With Space Florida For Demonstration Launches

"Masten Space Systems and Space Florida announced today the signing of a $400,000 contract under which Masten will perform a series of demonstration flights of a Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) reusable suborbital launch vehicle from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Under the contract, Masten will complete multiple flights. These operations will serve as a pathfinder to assist Space Florida in developing operational requirements for VTVL vehicles, recommending the optimum operational scenario, and determining the program schedule to achieve launch capability as soon as possible."

NASA Selects First Payloads for Upcoming Reduced-Gravity Flights

"NASA has selected 16 payloads for flights on the commercial Zero-G parabolic aircraft and two suborbital reusable launch vehicles as part of the agency's Flight Opportunities Program. The flights provide opportunities for space technologies to be demonstrated and validated in relevant environments. In addition, these flights foster the development of the nation's commercial reusable suborbital transportation industry. The payloads and teams from ten states and the District of Columbia were selected from applications received in response to a NASA call issued last December. Of the payloads, 12 will ride on parabolic aircraft flights; two on suborbital reusable launch vehicle test flights; and two on both platforms."

Space science: Along for the ride, Nature

"Three days after Discovery 's launch ... two planetary scientists are talking with a group of fellow researchers about what should come next. Sipping his drink, Daniel Durda laments that after half a century, only about 500 people have flown in space. Access to humanity's final frontier is still restricted to people employed by a handful of powerful governments and corporations, plus the occasional joyriding mega-millionaire. "I'd prefer for anyone to be able to go, for any reason they choose," says Durda, of the Boulder, Colorado, branch of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)."

- Video: First Suborbital Scientist Class Trains at NASTAR Center, earlier post
- Videos: Flying SpaceShipTwo in a Centrifuge, earlier post

Keith's note: I will be spending the next three days at the NASTAR Center ( ) undergoing suborbital scientist training. The NASTAR Center is the first FAA accredited facility able to meet the training requirements for commercial human spaceflight, both suborbital and orbital. This training involves classroom activities, altitude chamber sessions, and multiple rides in a centrifuge up to 6Gs simulating a ride aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two. I will be posting updates here and tweeting about this at We hope to live stream some of us riding a full 6G Virgin Galactic flight on Wednesday. Stay tuned.



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This page is an archive of entries in the suborbital category from May 2011.

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