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NASA Selects Two Technologies for Commercial Suborbital Tests

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 technologies selected for flight 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 (view Penta Chart).

"Stratospheric Parabolic Flight Technology", Steven Collicott of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., is the principal investigator (view Penta Chart).

The latter payload is tentatively scheduled to be flown on Near Space Corporation's Tillamook high-altitude balloon, using its High Altitude Shuttle System (HASS) payload carrier to test a suite of instruments in parabolic flight to provide a microgravity environment.

The suborbital vehicle provider has yet to be been determined for the technology from the University of Florida.

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 ...Read More

Videos of July 17 ARC Flight Opportunities Webinar online



We held a successful Flight Opportunities Webinar on Tuesday July 17 as a follow up to the introductionary Flight Opportunities Program Tour Webinar on June 26. The recorded videos of this latest Webinar are now available for viewing on Youtube by clicking on the links below. The videos have been broken down according to speaker:

Tue July 17: ARC Flight Opportunities Workshop Webinar

Might your research payload successfully compete for a free parabolic or suborbital flight? Find out how by viewing the 30 min NASA Flight Opportunities Program (FOP) Webinar “Tour”. Hopefully that will perk your interest in joining all or part of our 2nd ARC-focused Webinar on July 17, 2012, from 10 – 1 PM, designed as a FOP Workshop. We will present more detail on payload requirements and hear presentations from ARC-related researchers who are interested in flying, have been selected to fly and are adapting their payloads, and have recently flown and can share their experience and results.

A lively, moderated Q&A (with online chat option) will occur throughout and we need your input. Your proposed research payload, if selected, can have a free ride (or rides) in a space-like environment to support its technology validation, verification and maturation aligned with NASA’s technology goals. Find out more during this Workshop about how you can participate with us to access the commercial suborbital research opportunities available and emerging for your potentialuse.

VIRTUAL MEETING INSTRUCTIONS: Please join any or all of our FOP Workshop by logging into the Webinar at http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/fop . Participation requires only an Internet ...Read More

Masten Xaero Flies Again



On July 3, Masten Space Systems flew their Xaero vertical takeoff and vertical landing vehicle to 444m altitude. This flight marks a significant achievement for Masten Space Systems on the way to providing service to 5km+ for the Flight Opportunities Program. More information about the flight can be found on Masten's website.

ARC Flight Opportunities Program Tour



On June 26th we invited NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) staff to participate in a “Flight Opportunities Program Tour” produced as a webinar (slides available here). We’ve conducted face-to-face Flight Opportunities Program Workshops at Goddard Spaceflight Research Center and JPL, but the webinar format is new for us. It could provide FOP easier access to both a broader or more focused audience, based on our invite distribution and password. We could invite all NASA Centers, or just have one flight provider present a new accommodation capability to researchers who would be most interested. Please provide us your ideas on such use strategies. 

Dougal Maclise, the ARC Payloads Manager for the FOP and Richard Mains, the FOP Technology Liaison hosted the Tour to introduce the Program across ARC. We’ve placed the archived Tour on our web site and hope that you’ll take a look and provide us feedback on it so we can learn from our first efforts. We know we need more light on the speakers.

The Tour will be followed by an ARC FOP Workshop webinar on July 17 from 10AM – 1PM (more details here). Workshop content will include more information on the available commercial flight ...Read More

NASA Space Technology Program’s Flight Opportunities Workshop at JPL

The Flight Opportunities Program (FOP) has conducted three Workshops designed to introduce our flight opportunities for research payloads at annual Next-gen Suborbital Research Conferences in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and a one-day Workshop at Goddard Space Research Center in Fall 2011.

We recently completed a Workshop at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) hosted by Tom Cwik, Manager of the JPL NASA Technology Program Office and coordinated by Ross Jones, the Program Office Lead for Suborbital Research. Richard Mains, the FOP Technology Liaison coordinated the FOP team’s presentation and Ross Jones coordinated presentations by several JPL staff interested in discussing options for participating with the Flight Opportunities Program by flying technology-focused research payloads.

After Tom welcomed the attendees, Richard presented an overview of the FOP program, its flight platforms and payloads with support from the FOP team. Team members included John Kelly (FOP Program Manager) and Mark Collard (Flight Platforms Manager), both from NASA/DRFC, and Dougal Maclise (Payloads Manager), along with Richard Mains (Technology Liaison), from NASA/ARC. The half-day Workshop format was informal and kept open to questions from JPL attendees and the FOP team throughout. The FOP profiled the payload accommodations for five of eight commercial ...Read More

SpaceLoft-6 Flight Preparations for the SFEM

SpaceLoft-6 patch

The team flew in to Albuquerque Sunday evening and drove to Truth or Consequences in preparation to participate in the pre-launch activities for the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft-6 launch. The SL-6 launch is a mission by the Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS), but there was extra space available in the Nose Cone section of the vehicle that the Suborbital Flight Environment Monitor (SFEM) was able to occupy. This is a great risk reduction opportunity in preparation for the upcoming SpaceLoft-7 NASA mission in August 2012.

Up Aerospace launch facilities

The SFEM had been previously shipped to UP Aerospace in Denver, CO for the balance and integration testing on March 21, 2012. Prior to shipping to Denver the SFEM was bolted to the Nose Cone 3 section mounting plate for flight. Ultem stand-offs were inserted between the SFEM and the mounting plate for thermal isolation. The SFEM was attached using #10-32  - 5/8” bolts and locking nut, the bolts were torqued to 25 in- lb of torque.

Following the balance and integration test the SFEM was transported to the launch site via ground with the UP Aerospace launch crew. The Ames crew traveled with the programming laptop, cables, tools and other ancillary ground support items.

Integration of the Suborbital Flight Environment Monitor (SFEM) into the Nose Cone of the SpaceLoft rocket

Up Aerospace Control Center

Monday ...Read More

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