NextGen suborbital researchers meeting

By Phil Plait | November 9, 2009 8:00 am

This is pretty cool: the Lunar and Planetary Institute is planning a meeting about the use of suborbital flights. It’ll cover research, passengers, public outreach, the whole schmeer.

nsrc2010logo

The Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference will be held right here in Boulder on February 18 – 20, 2010. The speakers lining up are pretty good: my friend (and Apollo expert) Andy Chaikin will talk about passenger flight, former Shuttle commander Rick Searfoss, Pluto probe New Horizons chief guy Alan Stern, and people from NASA and the FAA will be there too.

If you want to participate (I suspect some space gurus read this blog…) then there is a November 12 deadline. Hurry!

I’m very interested in the use of space and near-space, so I’ll probably wind up going too. I don’t know what the future of space exploration will hold any more than the next space enthusiast does, but I’m pretty sure this will be playing a big role in it.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized

Comments (6)

  1. Plutonium being from Pluto

    Don’t forget to blog about it to us!

    I’d love to go but :

    a) I’m currently in Oz.*

    b) & broke – radioactive money doesn’t seem to be accepted on this planet, I wonder why? ;-)

    &

    c) Too hot – I’d melt in Boulder, I need to be below the freezing point of water.

    Pity, I’d love to hear Alan Stern’s plan’s for visiting my patch of the solar system! (Not that that’s sub-orbital .. but wait you never specified sub-orbital for *which* planet!) ;-)

    * If you think point (c) contradicts point (a) there you’re forgetting that Oz includes the Australian Antartica territory! ‘Spose I shoulda been specific but ..! ;-)

    PS. Off-topic but I’ve only just stumbled on this from a while back :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/10/12/sharpest-image-of-pluto-ever-taken/comment-page-2/#comment-225142

    Ah, home sweet home, even if it is seen from far far away … ;-)

  2. toasterhead

    That’s… interesting. I hadn’t really thought of the few seconds spent above 100km as “access to space,” at least for research purposes. How much experimentation can you do in four minutes of microgravity?

  3. There are places on Earth where there are only a few seconds of microgravity, such as

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallturm_Bremen

    (Obvious in hindsight: they doubled the free-fall time by installing a catapult.)

    If that’s worth doing, presumably there are many things which would be interesting with
    one or two orders of magnitude more time.

    Are these sub-orbital flights really flights “into space”? If free-fall is the deciding factor, then
    we don’t have to go further than the nearest amusement park. If vacuum is the factor, then
    are they really high enough so that one is, for practical purposes, in a vacuum?

    It seems to me that a good definition would be at least one orbit around the Earth. That would obviously be in free fall, and air resistance must be negligible otherwise one would fall down before the orbit was completed. (Pet peeve: at least in TOS, Scotty is always warning Captain Kirk that the orbit will soon decay. Why doesn’t the Enterprise just orbit a bit higher?) Otherwise, is a trip with Virgin Galactic really that much different than an amusement-park free fall?

  4. Mike Mullen

    “It seems to me that a good definition would be at least one orbit around the Earth. That would obviously be in free fall, and air resistance must be negligible otherwise one would fall down before the orbit was completed. (Pet peeve: at least in TOS, Scotty is always warning Captain Kirk that the orbit will soon decay. Why doesn’t the Enterprise just orbit a bit higher?) Otherwise, is a trip with Virgin Galactic really that much different than an amusement-park free fall?”

    Initially probably not but they are considering the development of a satellite launcher using the SpaceShip Two architecture and of course an orbital SpacesShip Three if the money adds up.

  5. @toasterhead
    4 minutes is plenty of time (may be too long) for some microgravity experimentation.

  6. toasterhead

    5. shane Says:
    November 9th, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    @toasterhead
    4 minutes is plenty of time (may be too long) for some microgravity experimentation.

    Fair enough, but couldn’t you do the same thing much more affordably with an airplane flying a vomit comet trajectory?

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »