Feedback: What did you think of this show?:
Guests: Dr. Alan Stern, Dr. John Pojman. Topics: Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research. We welcome Dr. Stern and Dr. Pojman to this program. I suggest you visit the following websites for more information on the subjects discussed in today's program: www.commercialspaceflight.org; www.pojman.com; www.commercialspaceflight.org/suborbital_researchers_group.shtml; http://suborbitalex.arc.nasa.gov; www.blueorigin.com. In our first segment, our guests explained commercial suborbital research and they provided us with at least three distinct advantages of commercial suborbital reusable rockets over existing suborbital sounding rockets. In summary, these reasons focused on high flight rates, the use of people if needed, and substantially lower flight costs. We then spent some time discussing the types of experiments one could do, either tended or automatic, and what would be required from the experimenter as well as the company. We then talked about the LSU Blue Origin Suborbital Demonstration Flight PI Dr. John Pojman as the PI. He described his experiment and even referenced the quick turnaround, costs involved and the students working on the project. We talked about the use of spacesuits on the vehicles and learned that the plan is to fly in a shirt sleeve environment much the way we fly in airplanes. One listener asked about taking her pet on a ride or even doing some suborbital experiments on her dog or cat. This question led to a discussion about animal research, the need for IRB for some research projects, animal or human. Our guests discussed experiments within the vehicle and special accommodates for experiments outside the vehicle. Toward the end of this segment, commercial time lines were brought up and Dr. Stern suggested that some equipment flights might start in 2011 with human flights the following year. As we started the second segment, we talked about the Suborbital Applications Research Group (SARG), training for going on these missions, and more about the types of experiments that might be done. We talked about purely commercial experiments by various businesses and we agreed that this would be an evolving area of interest and commerce. The NASA CRuSR program was talked about, its out of NASA Ames and you can check it out at the above URL. One of the subjects that a listener introduced to the discussion had to do with the difference in working on a government project over a purely commercial one. I commented that even talking with our guests from a completely commercial mindset required setting aside many perceptions of how we do things as government programs have dominated our thought process. We talked about this with both guests and John gave us an example or two of his working on government projects including his referencing of thousands of emails to do a simple ISS project. Listener Todd asked about ITAR and suborbital research and yes, its a force to contend with, no doubt about it. Alan told us about some of his training, you will certainly want to hear about it. As we moved to the end of the program, we asked Alan for updates on the New Horizons Mission to Pluto, LRO and more. We also talked about Pluto's non-status s a planet and you might be surprised by what Alan had to say on this subject. If you have questions or comments for our guests, you can contact Dr. Pojman at john at pojman dot com. For Dr. Stern, he can be contacted through his Facebook and other social networking sites, his Southwest Research Institute Investigator site, or by using alan dot stern at swri dot org.