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NASA Selects New Suborbital Payloads, Total Tops 100 Experiments

RELEASE : 13-176

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected 21 space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons, and a commercial parabolic aircraft.

This latest selection represents the sixth cycle of NASA's continuing call for payloads through an announcement of opportunity. More than 100 technologies with test flights now have been facilitated through NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate's Flight Opportunities Program.

"This new group of payloads, ranging from systems that support cubesats to new sensors technology for planetary exploration, represent the sorts of cutting-edge technologies that are naturally suited for testing during returnable flights to near-space," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington. "NASA's Flight Opportunities Program continues to mature this key technology development pipeline link, thanks to America's commercial suborbital reusable vehicles providers."

Fourteen of these new payloads will ride on parabolic aircraft flights, which provide brief periods of weightlessness. Two will fly on suborbital reusable launch vehicle test flights. Three will ride on high-altitude balloons that fly above 65,000 feet. An additional payload will fly on both a parabolic flight and a suborbital launch vehicle, and another will fly on both a suborbital launch vehicle and a ...Read More

Soliciting information and feedback from the community

For the past two years, we have provided opportunities to fly technology payloads on flight platforms that provide reduced gravity or other relevant environments required to test technologies. Our successful campaigns to date include 7 parabolic flight weeks, 2 balloon flights and several sRLV flights. Following these successes, we are soliciting information and feedback about these first two years from both current and potential flight service providers, as well as the technology payload providers and potential sources for sRLV and payload integration services. Please read the full Request for Information (RFI) for a full description of the type of information and feedback we are looking for. Deadline for submission of your information and feedback in March 8, 2013. We would greatly appreciate your input and feedback to make our program even better.

13 new technology payloads selected from AFO5

Today's announcement of the AFO5 selection of 13 new technology payloads:

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Flight Opportunities Program has selected 13 cutting-edge space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons and a commercial parabolic aircraft in 2013 and 2014. The flights will allow participants to demonstrate their technologies to the edge of space and back, before committing them to the harsh and unforgiving conditions of spaceflight.
The vehicles that will carry these payloads will include Las Vegas-based Zero-G Corporation's parabolic airplane and high altitude balloons from Near Space Corp. in Tillamook, Ore. They also will include reusable launch vehicles from Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif.; UP Aerospace in Highlands Ranch, Colo.; and Virgin Galactic in Las Cruces, N.M.

"These payloads represent more real progress in our goal of fostering a viable market for American commercial reusable suborbital platforms -- access to near space that provides the innovation needed for cutting-edge space technology research and development," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program. "American leadership in the commercial suborbital flight market will prove to benefit technology development across NASA, universities, industries and in our new technology economy."

A wide range of innovative payloads ...Read More

Wondering who our users are?

We've recently added a new feature to our website where we showcase the technologies and associated teams we currently work with in our Program. We have so far completed 28 of the total 54 technology users. In the weeks ahead, we hope to complete the remaining records so we have a complete list of all 54 technologies. To read more about our users, head over to the Technologies section.

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

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

24 New Experimental Payloads Selected For Commercial Suborbital Flights

A new set of 24 payloads have been selected into our program for maturation of their technologies. The selection is based on 35 proposals submitted to the 3rd Announcement of Flight Opportunities (AFO3) which closed late December of last year. Our new call AFO4 will be announced in the coming weeks. For more on the selected payloads, have a look at our press release. For more on the Announcement of Flight Opportunities cycles, see our NSPIRES solicitation page.

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