Aerospace industry is going more and more commercial. Even government agencies can’t avoid the trend.
Latest development: NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected two new technologies to fly on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles. The flights will test the payloads’ functionality before full deployment on future missions. One technology will be tested on a suborbital reusable launch vehicle and the other will be tested on a high altitude balloon.
The two new technologies selected for flight by NASA are:
· “Validating Telemetric Imaging Hardware for Crew-Assisted and Crew-Autonomous Biological Imaging in Suborbital Applications,” Robert Ferl of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fl., is the principal investigator. This experiment will develop and test a biological fluorescent imaging instrument designed to collect data on the biological response of a plant, or plant tissue to a micro-gravity environment.
· “Stratospheric Parabolic Flight Technology”, Steven Collicott of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., is the principal investigator. This experiment will develop and test a suite of instruments in parabolic flight to provide a microgravity environment. It will also test the parabolic flight capabilities of Near Space Corporation’s High Altitude Shuttle System (HASS), a glider capable of autonomous landing after being released from the firm’s Tillamook high-altitude balloon.
Reportedly, the suborbital vehicle provider has yet to be been determined for the technology from the University of Florida.
According to their information, NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program seeks to provide low-cost access to suborbital space, where researchers can expose technologies to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere and brief periods of weightlessness in a reduced gravity environment using commercial space vehicles. NASA is encouraging the growth of this emerging suborbital space industry through frequent flights at the edge of space and beyond to advance technologies that benefit space exploration.
All these technologies were selected from proposals received in response to a NASA’s fourth Announcement of Flight Opportunities (AFO) issued in March 2012. A fifth AFO was released on Aug. 10, 2012, and proposals are due on Sept. 21, 2012. For details, potential proposers can visit the AFO link on the Flight Opportunities Program website:
This Flight Opportunities Program, part of NASA’s Space Technology Program, is managed at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., manages the payload activities for the program.