Broadcast 1519 (Special Edition)

28 Feb 2011 Dr. Alan Stern, David McBride
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Guests: Dr. Alan Stern, David McBride. Topics: 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, emerging suborbital industry. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. We welcomed both Dr. Alan Stern and David McBride to the program to discuss the first day of the Next-Gen Suborbital conference, the announcements pertaining to the contracts with the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to fly eight missions with payload specialists on both XCOR and Virgin Galactic flights. You can learn more about this conference and see its agenda by visiting www.swri.org/9what/events/confer/nsrc/2011/program.htm. You can read the SwRI press release on the flights at www.swri.org/9what/releases/2011/pioneer.htm. During our hour long discussion with both guests, we talked about the conference, those attending, the program and some of the keynote talks as well as the identification of the Payload Specialists that have been named to fly three of the upcoming suborbital missions. We talked with Mr. McBride about the CRuSR program which is now based at Dryden and the funding for the program for both FY 11 and FY 12. In addition, the first suborbital research missions were described in some detail. A question was asked about what was meant by heavy lift, a discussion topic on the conference agenda. We also talked about X-15 as a suborbital research platform given the interest of Dryden which is at Edwards Air Force Base. A listener asked Dr. Stern about the disclosure and disclaimer requirements for the payload specialists as well as the medical standards and wondered if the payload specialist was treated the same as the spaceflight participant (tourist). Another listener asked Mr. McBride about the suborbital vehicle flight control systems given his experience in the field. David then told us about his Virgin Galactic flight simulator experience. Other listener questions wanted to know if around four minutes of microgravity would be sufficient to get useful information. Listen to what our guests said, as well as the training program they are going to be using to be able to maximize their microgravity time and focus to accomplish the research mission. Other questions were asked about NASA overall support for the suborbital industry as well as the research projects. Additional topics included the networking opportunities at the conference, possible suborbital flights from Florida rather than just Mojave and Spaceport America. At the end of our hour, I asked each guest for their takeaways for this discussion. Dr. Stern said there were three, highlighting the growing interest in the industry, the change within NASA to accept suborbital research flights and opportunities, and that the flights are becoming far more real today than they were even a year or two ago. Mr. McBride suggested the increased interest in the industry with NASA HQ along with the push to see an educational outreach objective with the flight. Post your comments and questions on The Space Show blog above. You can send emails to either guest through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com.

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