NASA approves experimental suborbital commercial flights

gforce one 460px 1 NASA approves experimental suborbital commercial flights

NASA has selected 13 experimental space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons and a commercial parabolic aircraft in 2013 and 2014, allowing them to demonstrate their technologies before committing them to space.

NASA has selected 13 experimental space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons and a commercial parabolic aircraft in 2013 and 2014, allowing them to demonstrate their technologies before committing them to space.

 
The cutting-edge space experiments cover a wide variety of areas, including a number of tests of technology during a parabolic flight. These include UAH ChargerSat-2 testing, high eccentric resistive overload device demonstration, accessing otolith-organ function with vestibular evoked myogenic potentials, and a caging system for drag-free satellites.
 
Other tests focus on the effects of changes in microgravity, such as a structural dynamics test of STACER antenna deployment, a performance test of a nanocatalyst-based direct ammonia alkaline fuel cell for water reclamation and energy applications, in-flight lab analysis technology demonstration, dynamic and static behaviour of a flexible fuel hose, and a demo of the restonant inductive near-field generation system.
 
The final tests will employ a vertical launch and landing suborbital vehicle to test autolanding for robotic precursor missions, deployable rigid adjustable guided final landing approach pinions, and guided parafoil high altitude research.
 
gforce one 460px 1 NASA approves experimental suborbital commercial flights
 
Flight testing of a UAT ADS-B transmitter prototype for commercial space transportation using reusable launch vehicles is the final experiment, and this will employ a variety of different launch aircraft.
 
“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.”
 
The technologies will be sent into suborbit on the parabolic airplane designed by Zero G Corporation, high altitude balloons created by Near Space Corporation, and reusable launch vehicles from Masten Space Systems, UP Aerospace, and Virgin Galactic.
 
The venture marks the latest in NASA's efforts to encourage private space corporations to fill the gap in space experiments and exploration created by government budget cuts in recent years. One of the major success stories so far has been SpaceX, which secured a number of contracts for the use of its rockets, but it is only one of a growing list of companies pushing the final frontier.
 
 
Image Credit: Zero G Corporation