January 28, 2013
Credit: Credit: Virgin Galactic
Thirteen emerging technologies are scheduled for flight testing on five types of platforms ranging from high-altitude balloons to reusable spacecraft in 2013-14 under NASA’s Flight Operations Program, bolstering U.S. efforts to foster a commercial market in the suborbital realm.
The suppliers include Zero-G Corp., of Las Vegas, a parabolic aircraft operator; Near Space Corp., of Tillamook, Ore., a high-altitude balloon provider; Masten Space Systems, of Mojave, Calif., and UP Aerospace, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., both reusable suborbital vertical take off/landing operators; and Virgin Galactic of Las Cruces, N.M., a piloted runway-based suborbital flight operator.
The flight opportunities initiative, introduced by NASA in 2010 and currently funded within the agency’s $188 million a year cross-cutting space technology line, enables researchers to expose promising advanced technologies to brief periods of spaceflight as part of a measured development strategy. Nine investigations have been designated for parabolic flight, two for high-altitude balloons, one on a suborbital launch vehicle and one on a high-altitude balloon as well as a suborbital launch vehicle.
“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, in a Jan. 21 statement.
Investigations scheduled for parabolic flight testing include:
• Structural Dynamics Test of STACER Antenna Deployment in Microgravity, Kerri Cahoy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
• UAH ChargerSat-2 Parabolic Flight Testing, Francis Wessling, University of Alabama in Huntsville;
• High Eccentric Resistive Overload (HERO) Device Demonstration during Parabolic Flight, Aaron Weaver, NASA’s Glenn Research Center;
• Assessing Otolith-Organ Function with Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMPs) in Parabolic Flight, Mark Shelhamer, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine;