Attend a suborbital rocket meeting, and you might win a seat to space!

By Phil Plait | November 23, 2011 9:45 am

This is not a joke: if you attend the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2012, you could win a seat on an XCOR suborbital rocket flight to space!

I’ll note this conference is a technical meeting for suborbital researchers, so it’s not like Comic Con. Still, I know a lot of scientist-types read this blog, so it’s worth promoting. I attended the meeting here in Boulder in 2010, and it was a fascinating look into a new field of research: science done on crewed suborbital rocket flights, where microgravity (free fall) conditions last for as long as four minutes. That’s long enough to do a lot of interesting work, including astronomy, physics, engineering, and biology.

The meeting is being sponsored by the Southwest Research Institute and many other groups, including XCOR Aerospace, which is developing a reusable suborbital spaceplane that can carry people above the 100 km (62 mile) demarcation line of space. And they’re putting their money where their mouth is: one paid registrant to NSRC 2012 will win a seat on XCOR’s Lynx suborbital vehicle, where they can perform their research. This is a $95,000 value!

How cool is that?

If you want to attend the conference and present a paper, the deadline for submitting abstracts is December 2.

And no, I’m not submitting. I get sick on a kid’s swing set. I’ll let astronauts and people with more solid stomachs take to space. I’m happy to wave at them from the ground.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Science, Space

Comments (20)

  1. NGA

    If I could I would try.

  2. Daniel J. Andrews

    From the official rules….

    If a winning entrant is from Canada, the entrant will be required to first correctly answer a mathematical skill testing question without assistance of any kind (whether mechanical or otherwise) in order to be eligible to win the Prize. The Prize will be awarded only if the potential prize Winner fully complies with these Official Rules.

    What the hell is that about?! I presume an American winner won’t need to answer any skill-testing math question(?). Is that because the education system is so dumbed down now that most American winners would be unable to complete that skill testing question?

    Maybe they think they can stack the deck in favour of US citizens by making it ‘harder’ for non-US citizens, but if that’s the plan, that will backfire–we can actually do math in our heads because it is so cold up here calculators don’t work and our abacuses (abacusi?) freeze solid.

    Maybe this is a test of Canadian citizenship. “Prove you’re Canadian, not American. Do this math test—IN YOUR HEAD mUAHAHAhhaaaHHAAAAAAAAAA…….oh, he did it, he can’t be an American then. Well, jolly good then but we have another task for you–now you need to cut down the mightiest tree in the forest wittthhhh……… A HERRING!” (cue dramatic music)

    If that last paragraph leaves you scratching your head…see

    and jump to the four minute mark (thou shalt jump to four, no more, no less. Four shalt be the number that thou shalt jump, and the number of the jumping shalt be four. Three shalt thou not jump, nor either two, excepting that thou then proceed to three and to four. Five is right out. Once the number four, being the fourth number, be reached, then watchest thou the clip).

    Or watch the whole thing. Heck, rent the movie and learn about majestic møøse too….

  3. Chris

    @2 Daniel
    ROFLMAO. Although if you read further
    “This Prize is void in Quebec and where prohibited.”
    So smart Canadians living in Quebec are out of luck.

    Although I am curious what the mathematical question is.

  4. Takeru K

    The “skill testing question” is due to Canadian law regarding contest and prizes. I’m no lawyer, but basically the law says that Canadians are not allowed to win prizes by just random luck, there has to be some “skill” involved. So, on pretty much every ballot/entry form in Canada where they draw a winner, there is a skill testing question directly on the form which you have to answer. The question is quite simple, usually something like:

    6 + (3×2) = ?
    Add together 5 and 6. Multiply by 2. Divide by 10. What is the answer?

    Only in a very rare case have I seen a question like:

    2 + 3 x 3 = ?

    where the order of operations can be tricky.

    So, that clause exists not because of the contest organizers, but because of Canadian laws! I have never heard of anyone losing their prize because of an incorrect answer though (I’d imagine it would be a news story if someone did!).

  5. matt

    Canada has strict laws concerning games of chance, which includes draws such as this. The law allows for mixed games of chance and skill, which is why you’ll see “skill testing questions” in nearly every contest like this up here. Quebec has even stricter provincial laws, which are nearly impossible to comply with.

    This isn’t a matter of the contest organizers trying to make things hard for us Canadians. They’re actually going to great lengths to make sure that Canadians (outside of Quebec) are legally allowed to take part.

  6. CraterJoe

    Oh I can see the question now: “Prove Fermat’s Last Theorem”

  7. And no, I’m not submitting. I get sick on a kid’s swing set. I’ll let astronauts and people with more solid stomachs take to space.

    Hey! Your Close Personal Friend(tm), Adam Savage took one for the team. Why not you? :-)

    How about this? If you win, I’ll go in your place.

  8. I’ll be at the GWEF doing testing on one of my projects during that time… I didn’t see it say that I had to be in attendance, just that I had to pay for my registration in order to win. Hmm, is it worth that much for a “raffle ticket” like this?

  9. Ransak

    So, since it doesn’t look like you have to attend (only be registered), you can buy a lottery ticket for $300 (Early Bird Professional) to go to space. I won’t lie, I’m tempted.

  10. Daniel J. Andrews

    Ohhhhh…Chris and Takeru and matt killed my beautiful hypothesis with ugly facts.


  11. jearley

    From what I have read, there is not a 100% correlation between seasickness and spacesickness.
    In any event, You can take Trans Derm scopalamine. I get really sea sick, but I like to go ocean fishing- I have used those TD patches and fished for Marlin off Kona with no problems (other than not getting a fish).

  12. I’d prolly barf myself to death…
    But I’d do it anyway!
    @jearly: Woot! TD Scopolamine for the win!

  13. Meskine

    @ #11 jearley: Whenever I hear scopolamine I immediately flashback to “The Guns of Navarone.” Anthony Quayles’ gangrenous leg requires medical treatment that the Allied commandos cannot provide, so they decide to leave him behind to be captured by the Germans who can. But Gregory Peck knows that those dirty, cheating Nazis are also going to jack him up on truth serum to foil the commandos’ mission, so he feeds Quayle a bunch o’ disinformation about the mission being scrubbed. The truth serum those stinkin’ Krauts will be using is… SCOPOLAMINE! I won’t spoil the exciting climax, but since we’re not commenting in German you can probably hazard a guess as to the mission’s outcome.

  14. James Landis

    Win the prize, donate it to charity!

  15. Mike Saunders

    What is the cost of a suborbital flight compared to a cube sat or nano sat? People have been doing low cost space experiments for years.

  16. Right, Meskine, Scopolamine is right out. Dramamine, however, is the ticket!

  17. Bob_In_Wales

    Space Ship 1 collected the X prize in 2004 and Space Ship 2 may fly its first passenger in 2012, an 8 year gap between proof of concept and first commercial flight, at least. The Lynx hasn’t flown yet AFAIK, so how long do I have to wait to catch my flight? I’m getting on you know! Another 10 years would make me … cough cough…

  18. Alan Stern

    Present @NSRC-2012, **the** mtg for suborbital researchers & educators! B SURE 2 BEAT NEXT FRIDAY’s ABSTRACT DEADLINE:

  19. Childermass

    Income tax on a $95,000 prize means that most people cannot afford to accept.

  20. Matt B.

    @ Daniel J. Andrews: Maybe they should make you Canadians answer a Latin question (I mean a question about Latin, not a question in Latin, such as “Quo Vadis?”). The plural of “abacus” is “abaci”.


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