20 December 2011

Season's Greetings from A4H

Dear friends of Astronauts4Hire,

In less than two years, A4H has made great strides as it fulfills its mission to build the next generation astronaut workforce. We'd like to express our profound gratitude to everyone who has made 2011 a breakout year of growth and success for A4H. Thanks to the support of A4H members, partners, and sponsors, we have achieved a lot in the past year, including:


Looking forward to 2012, we will continue to mature our training program, advance space research, and provide inspiration to aspiring astronauts of all ages. If you believe in the exciting potential of A4H and want to support our innovative leadership in the commercial spaceflight industry, please consider making a tax-deductible year-end gift to help lay a strong foundation for A4H in 2012. Just click the "Donate" button on our website, or contact us.

On behalf of everyone at Astronauts4Hire, I wish you a happy holiday season and successful New Year!

Warm regards,
Brian Shiro
President & CEO, Astronauts4Hire

15 December 2011

A4H Webinar on Astronaut Selection

Duane Ross (credit NASA)
The fundamental purpose of Astronauts4Hire is to provide for the needs of aspiring astronauts. While we are focused primarily on commercial spaceflight opportunities, a number of our members are also keenly interested in becoming NASA astronauts. With NASA's recent announcement that it is looking for new Astronaut Candidates, we thought there would be no better way to launch our public webinar capability with Fuze Meeting than by hosting a conversation on the current NASA opportunity with the Astronaut Selection Office. We are grateful that NASA's Astronaut Selection Manager Mr. Duane Ross participated in the event as our special guest expert.

The event was well-attended by 100 interested potential astronaut applicants, who were all encouraged to submit questions beforehand. We compiled the 100+ questions received into the top 20 to provide the main structure for the conversation. An open question and answer period at the end provided a further opportunity for guests to ask questions. The full list of questions and detailed notes describing Mr. Ross' responses are available as a PDF download.

Related Media Stories:

12 December 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Announces FuzeBox Support and Public Webinar for Astronaut Applicants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 12, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Announces FuzeBox Support and Public Webinar for Astronaut Applicants

Tampa, Florida – Astronauts4Hire is pleased to welcome Fuzebox, Inc. to its growing list of supporters helping to further its mission to develop the next generation of astronauts. FuzeBox has granted the non-profit organization a professional-level license for its Fuze Meeting video conferencing and collaboration product. "Fuze Meeting provides a facet of communication essential for Astronauts4Hire," remarked Astronauts4Hire CTO Amnon Govrin. "It enables productive high-quality voice and video meetings among members within the organization."

FuzeBox is a personal telepresence and visual collaboration SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) company whose vision is to empower global professionals with visual collaboration, real-time communication, community, and presence on any platform. Its flagship product is Fuze Meeting, which enables cloud-based multi-party web conferencing and an easy user interface. With its members spread out across the Americas, Europe, and Asia, Astronauts4Hire relies upon the Fuze Meeting virtual collaboration tool to connect its members as it builds the suborbital frontier.

In addition to its role in facilitating internal communications within the Astronauts4Hire organization, Fuze Meeting is also a valuable public outreach tool. Astronauts4Hire will be hosting its first public webinar with the software at 3 p.m. EST on December 15, 2011. Mr. Duane Ross of the NASA Astronaut Selection Office will be the featured guest, providing insight and answering questions for anyone planning to apply for NASA’s current astronaut candidate application opportunity. Interested participants can RSVP and join the online meeting at http://a4h.eventbrite.com. Registration is limited to 100 attendees, but an audio recording will be available on the Astronauts4Hire website after the event.

"Along with Astronauts4Hire, we’re excited to be contributing to the launch of a new era of commercial space travel and exploration," said FuzeBox CEO Jeff Cavins. "Our intuitive, user-friendly software allows them to concentrate on their real mission, without the need for a lot of expensive equipment and training. In fact, Fuze Meeting makes videoconferencing and collaboration as easy as clicking on an email invitation link."

For its support of Astronauts4Hire, FuzeBox becomes an Astronauts4Hire Orbital Level sponsor. Astronauts4Hire thanks FuzeBox for generously supporting the growth of the commercial spaceflight industry. Sponsorship and donation inquiries can be sent to donate[at]astronauts4hire.org.

05 December 2011

A4H member featured in New Scientist magazine

A4H Flight Member Melania Guerra has always dreamed of being an astronaut. As this week's issue of New Scientist reports, she is using her background working in extreme environments along with her training through Astronauts4Hire to achieve that lifelong goal in the post-Shuttle era of spaceflight. The article titled "Aiming for the Stars" is in the current issue on newsstands now.

As the world's #1 science and technology news service, New Scientist is the most widely circulated science publication with a global readership of nearly 900,000. The article is available online or on newsstands this week in the 3 December 2011 issue (Issue 2841). A PDF version of the article is also available for download from the A4H website. New Scientist last featured A4H through its "One Minute with Brian Shiro" interview in July 2010. A4H thanks New Scientist for taking an interest in A4H's contribution to the developing commercial spaceflight industry.

22 October 2011

A4H members talk TED, chase dreams, and jump out of airplanes

A4H members are involved in a number of worthwhile endeavors outside the Astronauts4Hire organization.  Today, we'll highlight a few recent examples.

Flight Member Melania Guerra, who recently completed her Ph.D. in oceanography, spoke at the September 2011 TEDxJoven@PuraVida event in San José, Costa Rica.  Her presentation titled "Realizando Sueños en Ambientes Extremos" (Fulfilling Dreams in Extreme Environments) focused on her passion for exploration of extreme environments from the seafloor to space, including how Astronauts4Hire helps her achieve her goals.  You can watch the video below, but note that it is in Spanish.


Melania isn't the only A4H member with ties to the TED organization.  Earlier this year, Associate Member Luke Hutchison was selected as a TED2011 Fellow and participated in the "TED2011: The Rediscovery of Wonder" conference in Long Beach, California.

YouTube made big waves last week with its announcement of the YouTube Space Lab initiative.  The exciting competition will allow a few winning teenagers to fly their experiments on the International Space Station next year.  Flight Member Luis Zea is a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado who works at BioServe Space Technologies developing hardware that will fly on YouTube Space Lab missions.  He has previously supported payloads on Space Shuttle and ISS missions as well.  In the video below, Luis describes the OptiCell Processing Module, which is one of the four hardware options students have to choose from for YouTube Space Lab experiments.


Luis also recently gave a tour of Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser mockup from his lab at the University of Colorado.  The Dream Chaser is being developed under NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Development (CCDev) program to take astronauts to the International Space Station.  Luis describes his role in supporting the the Dream Chaser in the video below.


12 September 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Granted 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Status

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 12, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Granted 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Status

Tampa, Florida – Astronauts4Hire is proud to announce it is now officially a public charity with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Contributions donated to Astronauts4Hire are fully tax-deductible retroactive to the founding of the organization on April 12, 2010. Astronauts4Hire is also now eligible to apply for government and foundation grants, which will further broaden its access to resources and strengthen its ability to serve the commercial spaceflight industry.

"Obtaining 501(c)(3) status is a major milestone for Astronauts4Hire," remarked President and Co-founder Brian Shiro. "This opens many doors for us to expand fundraising activities and fully realize our goals as a charitable educational organization facilitating the training and professional development needs of astronaut candidates. In doing so, we will create a new generation of astronauts prepared for the era of commercial spaceflight, advance space research, raise awareness of space exploration benefits, and inspire youth to pursue careers in science and technology."

Supporting its educational mission, Astronauts4Hire has developed a comprehensive training curriculum to prepare its members for the rigors of spaceflight. Members training through the Astronauts4Hire organization enjoy cost savings compared with undergoing equivalent training programs independently. They can also gain important operational experience as contract researchers carrying out experiments or operating payloads for clients on microgravity and suborbital flights. Representative areas of expertise in the Astronauts4Hire organization span medicine, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, remote sensing, astronomy, and most fields of engineering.

The Astronauts4Hire Tax Identification Number (EID) is 27-2360828. The IRS letter granting Astronauts4Hire its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status is available upon request. Donation inquiries can be sent to donate[at]astronauts4hire.org.

27 August 2011

A4H featured in the journal Nature

If you're an aspiring commercial astronaut wanting to fly experiments in space, how can you make that happen? That is the focus of a new article appearing in this week's issue of the journal Nature (Volume 476, Number 7361, pp 477-478, doi:10.1038/nj7361-477a). It features interviews with A4H's Jason Reimuller and Brian Shiro on how Astronauts4Hire is creating a new model of astronaut training in the era of private spaceflight. The pair discuss ways the A4H organization is preparing them to realize their own space research goals and the prospects for future flight opportunities with carriers like Virgin Galactic, which already has a contract with SwRI researchers.

In this new feature, author Katharine Sanderson follows up on her related February 2010 Nature article which discussed how the commercial spaceflight industry is opening opportunities for researchers like never before. We thank her for the chance to expose A4H to Nature readers. Nature is one of the world's most highly respected and cited interdisciplinary science journals.

Other popular scientific publications featuring Astronauts4Hire include last year's Discover , New Scientist, and Physics Today interviews, as well as the widespread media attention paid to our first research job (listed here and here). For more information on A4H, please see our Media page.

31 July 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire, Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Lab Partnership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 31, 2011

Astronauts4Hire, Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Lab Partnership

Tampa, Florida – Astronauts4Hire is pleased to announce it has entered into a research and training partnership with the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory (AGSOL). The two organizations recently signed a memorandum of understanding agreement focused on addressing the goals, challenges, and issues of astronaut training for private spaceflight.

A particular emphasis of the collaboration between Astronauts4Hire and AGSOL will be improving task performance under modified gravity conditions and mitigating space motion sickness, which has plagued almost three quarters of all astronauts. Representatives from Astronauts4Hire toured the AGSOL on July 14 and gained a firsthand perspective of the lab’s capabilities to support human sensorimotor control in unusual force environments.

Located at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, AGSOL researchers have spent the last three decades studying human spatial orientation and movement control under varying gravity conditions. "Our unique ability to contribute is our expertise in studying human motion sickness," says Janna Kaplan, who researches human adaptation to various conditions of spaceflight.

The lab is equipped to train for motion sickness adaptation as well as disorientation recovery in order to reduce discomfort and improve human productivity. James R. Lackner, Riklis, professor of physiology, founder, and co-director of AGSOL, added, "We probably have more experience in parabolic flight than any research group in the world, in terms of human factors. And we have the only functioning, full-scale artificial gravity environment operational in the world in the present time."

"Assessment of each individual’s susceptibility to motion sickness and training to help manage motion sickness are of vital importance to ensure quality mission assurance," said Astronauts4Hire President Brian Shiro. "With only 5 minutes of time in microgravity on suborbital flights, we cannot afford to waste time feeling ill or disoriented and potentially jeopardize the success of a client's payload."

Astronauts4Hire Chief Science Officer Dr. Luis Saraiva, who initiated the partnership with a visit to the AGSOL in April, also strongly endorsed the lab. "I am proud to be working with the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory to advance understanding of human performance under the provocative conditions of microgravity. They are world renowned in their field and will bring invaluable know-how to our training program."

Astronauts4Hire and the AGSOL will next work together to identify, plan, and execute research studies and training protocols to improve preparation of astronauts for private spaceflight. This will include monitoring pre- and post-flight adaptation and developing operational procedures to maximize efficiency to ensure experiment success during missions.


20 July 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Members Complete Suborbital Scientist Training

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 20, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Members Complete Suborbital Scientist Training

Southampton, Pennsylvania – The era of private astronauts conducting commercial space research missions is almost here!  Eight Astronauts4Hire members have successfully completed the Suborbital Scientist Training Program at the National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center in Southampton, Pennsylvania.  Flight Members Christopher Altman, Kristine Ferrone, Jose Hurtado, Jason Reimuller, Brian Shiro, and Alli Taylor, along with Associate Member Jules Shiohira Ung, comprised the inaugural Astronauts4Hire class to undergo suborbital scientist training and certification.  Flight Member Mindy Howard also completed the course previously.

"Centrifuge and high altitude training are core training elements that NASTAR provided to our members," remarked Astronauts4Hire Chief Operating Officer Dr. Jason Reimuller.  "The very realistic mission simulation in NASTAR’s centrifuge taught us how to physiologically adapt to rapidly changing G-forces, enabling us to anticipate these stresses in flight, adapt to them, and stay focused on our research tasks." Flight Member Alli Taylor added, "Training at the NASTAR Center gave me confidence in what to expect and how to perform on suborbital flights."

The three-day NASTAR Suborbital Scientist course is designed to prepare researchers with the knowledge and skills to safely cope with the rigors of suborbital spaceflight. The highlight of the first day was a session in the NASTAR high-altitude chamber that simulated an ascent to 25,000 feet and allowed the trainees to experience the effects of oxygen-deprivation, or hypoxia, firsthand.  On the second day, G-tolerance flights in the NASTAR Phoenix STS-400 centrifuge subjected the trainees to maximum sustained loads of 3.5 times Earth’s gravity oriented up-and-down (eyeballs-down) and 6 times Earth’s gravity oriented front-to-back (eyeballs-in).  These flights trained the Astronauts4Hire members to recognize and mitigate the symptoms of gravity-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC).  The course culminated on the third day with centrifuge runs simulating the complete suborbital flight profile of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vehicle.

The Astronauts4Hire trainees also completed a distraction and time management exercise to illustrate the need for planning and practice to ensure mission success during a short-duration spaceflight with limited working space and potentially stressful conditions. "The most important factor in any space mission is the team of people who work together to make it a success," reflected Flight Member Christopher Altman. "Working and training together as a team has been of invaluable experience to our professional capabilities to conduct research on future missions."

Going forward, Astronauts4Hire and NASTAR will collaborate to refine and further develop curricula to prepare future scientist crews. "The Astronauts4Hire are a committed and focused group of individuals," said Brienna Henwood, Director of Space Training and Research Programs at the NASTAR Center. "They understood the curriculum, completed Altitude Physiology, and executed proper techniques during all spaceflight launch and reentry phases of training. NASTAR Center is proud to add the eight Astonauts4Hire members to our growing list of prepared commercial spaceflight trainees."


11 July 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Members Complete Emergency & Sea Survival Training

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 11, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Members Complete Emergency & Sea Survival Training

Groton, Connecticut – Astronauts4Hire members have successfully completed Dunker, Emergency Egress, and Sea Survival training at Survival Systems USA in Groton, Connecticut.  These courses have prepared them with the knowledge and skills to safely cope with physical and psychological stresses encountered during emergency situations at sea. Flight Members Christopher Altman, Jason Reimuller, and Brian Shiro, along with Associate Member Jules Shiohira Ung, comprised the first Astronauts4Hire class to undergo these training certifications.

"We have learned how to appropriately prepare for and respond to onboard emergencies that require forced water landing, inverted underwater escape, and sustained survival at sea," said Flight Member Christopher Altman. Astronauts4Hire President Brian Shiro added, "I was extremely impressed by the expert capabilities of Survival Systems USA and can think of no better way to initiate Astronauts4Hire’s team training program."

Survival training is important for astronauts in order to prepare for possible emergency landings.  As more than two thirds of the Earth is covered by water, astronauts should prepare for water landing and survival scenarios.  While the risk of this happening is small for infrequent space travelers, it becomes more probable for professional astronauts undertaking multiple spaceflight missions. "Most spaceports launch spacecraft over water, and since ascent aborts comprise the vast majority of contingency scenarios, we can expect these incidents will result in a water landing," remarked Astronauts4Hire Chief Operating Officer Dr. Jason Reimuller. "In addition, there are many post-landing scenarios that mandate an unassisted emergency egress.  This is why we require egress training for all of our qualified astronauts."

The Dunker Training program covered emergency incidents, how to prepare for them, and how to survive them after they have occurred.  It included comprehensive academic modules and case studies to provide the proper context for hazards associated with aircraft or spacecraft in over-water situations.  The preparation also included familiarization with the rescue equipment and devices.  Astronauts4Hire members practiced brace positioning, breath hold, emergency breathing device use, orientation, and egress in the Shallow Water Egress Trainer  (SWET) and Modular Egress Training Simulator (METS) under a variety of scenarios with varying aircraft roll and weather conditions.  The Sea Survival program dealt with personal and group rescue techniques utilizing personal flotation, life rafts, signaling devices, and search and rescue equipment in an open water environment at sea.

Going forward, Astronauts4Hire and Survival Systems USA will collaborate to customize the courses to provide more specific spaceflight context. Survival Systems USA President Maria Hanna commented, "I was impressed by the vision of Astronauts4Hire in our initial discussions. Now, following the completion of their training with us, I am excited about the possibilities for the future – the development of customized academic modules to address capsule specific configurations and equipment, and the potential for the manufacture of another new simulator – a capsule simulator. It is initiatives such as these that will define the safety of the personnel and ultimately, the success of the industry."

05 July 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Supports the One Flag in Space Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 5, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Supports the One Flag in Space Initiative

Tampa, Florida – Astronauts4Hire proudly supports the "One Flag in Space" initiative by Blue Marble Space, a nonprofit organization devoted to enabling international unity through space exploration. Astronauts4Hire Flight Members will wear the Blue Marble emblem on their flight suits during training and flight activities beginning with our inaugural training class this July.

The historic Blue Marble image, captured by the Apollo 17 crew on December 7, 1972, is the first photograph of the full planet Earth taken by a human. It has become one of the most universally recognized symbols in the world—transcending national, political, ethnic, and religious boundaries. When shown alongside national flags on astronaut flight suits, the Blue Marble sends a universal message to present and future generations that, in space, humankind is working together for the benefit of all.

The Blue Marble symbol
"The Blue Marble symbol already has the support of several astronauts from the American, European and Korean space agencies," said Sanjoy Som, founder and Director of Blue Marble Space. "We are very excited to have the support of Astronauts4Hire, and are thrilled to be collaborating with one of the leaders who are revolutionizing spaceflight."

"Astronauts4Hire is an international organization dedicated to developing the world’s first private astronaut corps, with members representing 16 countries," remarked Astronauts4Hire President Brian Shiro. "Since we do not represent any single nation, the One Flag in Space initiative is aligned with one of A4H’s key values: space belongs to everyone."

This founding collaboration between Blue Marble Space and Astronauts4Hire serves as the keystone for a more active partnership between the two organizations. The Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, the scientific arm of Blue Marble Space which opened its doors in 2011, will actively seek NASA and NSF grants for basic and applied research. "The expertise A4H will bring together in microgravity environments will be invaluable for scientific research. We look forward to working together with A4H to align the scientific goals of experiments with the engineering requirements of microgravity flight," added Sanjoy Som.

03 July 2011

A4H Members Support Payloads on Final Shuttle Flight

After three decades, the Space Shuttle era will draw to a close as Space Shuttle Atlantis embarks on the STS-135 mission later this week. We are proud to announce that two A4H members have supported payload integration for experiments to be flown on the final Shuttle flight.

Luis Zea assembling hardware for STS-135
Luis Zea is part of a group currently at the Kennedy Space Center integrating several payloads on STS-135. These payloads comprise multiple scientific research objectives and experiments such as cell culture investigation, assessment of risk to biological integrity from the space environment, as well as the development of a new salmonella vaccine. Luis' job covers the life of a space-based research project from concept design, research & development, testing, documentation, integration, operations, all the way through to post-landing recovery and processing.

After this final Shuttle flight, he will continue working on projects planned to leave the planet on SpaceX spacecrafts, as well as Japanese and European transfer vehicles. Working at the intersection of industry, government, and academia as part of the BioServe Space Technologies team, Luis has immersed himself with a wide range of out-of-this-world projects with Principal Investigators from NASA, university and private research programs.

V.A. Zabala-Aliberto in the SSEP lab (©2011)
As she did in May 2011 during the STS-134 mission, A4H co-founder Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto will also work from the Kennedy Space Center during the STS-135 mission loading microgravity student experiments into experiment racks bound for the International Space Station through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). During their payload integration activities, Veronica Ann and the SSEP team will also provide education and outreach to the public via live streaming USTREAM broadcasts. When Atlantis lands at the end of July 2011, she will focus her attention on the extraction of the payloads, making observations of the experiments under the microscope, and shipping then them off to the students and other Principal Investigators from around the world.

Zabala-Aliberto, who has previously worked on microgravity payloads for students and nonprofits, is no stranger to the space community. She has spent the last decade educating and inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers through her work on the Mars Exploration Rovers, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, and Mars Express missions.

To commemorate Luis' and Veronica Ann's work supporting this historic mission, as well as A4H's capabilities for payload and experiment operation, we are launching a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook during the STS-135 mission and A4H's training activities to raise awareness of Astronauts4Hire.

28 June 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Announces Summer Training Schedule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 28, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Announces Summer Training Schedule

Tampa, Florida – The inaugural Astronauts4Hire training class will perform a series of group astronaut training activities leading to eventual research specialist qualification during the month of July 2011.

"Our training providers have been carefully chosen to provide comprehensive initial and recurring training for Astronauts4Hire," said Chief Operating Officer Dr. Jason Reimuller. "Their training programs will indoctrinate our candidates to the environment where they will be conducting experiments, greatly increasing the probability of full mission success. Candidates will also be well prepared to effectively react to possible mission contingencies."

The upcoming group training activities include:

  • July 6-8: Survival Systems USA
    Astronauts4Hire training participants will complete emergency escape and sea survival courses at Survival Systems USA located in Groton, CT. These programs will provide the knowledge and skills necessary to remain calm and react appropriately to on-board emergencies requiring evacuation from a spacecraft in over- or under-water situations.

  • July 11-13: NASTAR Center
    Astronauts4Hire training participants will complete the Suborbital Scientist Training Program at the NASTAR Center located in Southampton, PA. They will undergo high altitude, G-tolerance, distraction, and spaceflight physiology training focused on the needs of suborbital scientist-astronauts.

  • July 14: Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory
    Astronauts4Hire training participants will tour and test the facilities at the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory located at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. They will gain a first-hand understanding of how unusual force environments affect human sensorimotor control and orientation.

Astronauts4Hire members also plan to complete microgravity flight and wilderness survival group training activities later this year as well as accomplish individual training elements such as SCUBA diving certification, an aerobatic flight training course, and self-study theoretical courses on the space environment, spacecraft systems, and human factors.

"This is a major step for us," said Astronauts4Hire President Brian Shiro. "Training as a team and leveraging the collective power of the group are key aspects of the Astronauts4Hire philosophy. These training activities will prepare Astronauts4Hire members for a wide variety of suborbital missions and will pave the way for future opportunities."

15 June 2011

A4H Supports DC Area Outreach Events

A4H Flight Member Kristine Ferrone recently presented at Alice Deal Middle School's Space Exploration Day held at American University in Washington, DC on June 3, 2011. Other groups represented at the day-long event included FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, First OrbitGiraffe 'n' AntInternational Space UniversityNASA, New Space Magazine, Virgin GalacticWe Want Our Future, and more. Beginning with discussions of astronomy and early human spaceflight, the presenters transitioned to space tourism and commercial space by the afternoon.

Ferrone engaged the 300 sixth grade students with a 20 minute presentation on Astronauts4Hire and what it is like to train as an astronaut. The excited students asked many questions about A4H training activities including NASTAR, SCUBA diving, microgravity flights, and survival training. They also enjoyed watching a video of an A4H Flight Member participating in a microgravity flight.  The class was asked who would like to become astronauts for hire someday. The show of hands in the photo below is a good indication of their enthusiasm for commercial human spaceflight!

Ferrone with the class of sixth graders from Alice Deal Middle School. Those raising their hands would like to become Astronaut4Hire!

The next day, Kristine joined A4H Flight Member Alli Taylor at the Federation of Galaxy Explorers' 10th annual Galaxy Ball.  The festivities began with a cocktail hour and silent auction of space trinkets, including commemorative Vostok Space Beer coasters flown by an A4H researcher on a microgravity test flight. Taylor and Ferrone had the opportunity to speak with Bill Nye “the Science Guy”, who was very interested in A4H. The event also included the presentation of several awards from the Federation of Galaxy Explorers for major contributions in the field of spaceflight education.

A4H Flight Members Taylor and Ferrone with Mr. Bill Nye "the Science Guy".

Inspiring the next generation of space explorers is an important aspect of the A4H mission.  We thank Alice Deal Middle School and the Federation of Galaxy Explorers for the opportunity to participate in these inspiring events.


31 May 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Announces TargetProcess Sponsorship

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 31, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Announces TargetProcess Sponsorship


Tampa, Florida – Astronauts4Hire is pleased to announce its sponsorship by TargetProcess, Inc., an agile project management software provider. As part of the sponsorship, Astronauts4Hire is receiving complimentary licenses for TargetProcess’s online project management system. Astronauts4Hire uses TargetProcess to track tasks and concentrate on applying members’ volunteered time in the most productive way.

"We are an organization spread across the United States, Canada and Europe, so communication and structured collaboration are essential to our daily business," said Astronauts4Hire Chief Technology Officer Amnon Govrin. "The customizability of TargetProcess’s On-Demand service have allowed us to adapt it to our unique needs."

TargetProcess Vice President of Business Development Andrey Mihailenko praised the Astronauts4Hire implementation of TargetProcess software, noting that "Astronauts4Hire is a great test case demonstrating that TargetProcess is adaptable to fit organizations with needs other than engineering or software development. We are extremely excited to be part of such a great program and be able to contribute to its success."

For their in-kind donation of software licenses worth $15,000, TargetProcess becomes Astronauts4Hire's first Lunar Level sponsor. In return for the sponsorship, Astronauts4Hire will proudly display the TargetProcess logo on its website and on the flight suits its members wear during their training and flight activities. TargetProcess also has the option to invite an Astronaut4Hire member to come speak at a company event.

25 May 2011

Seedhouse Completes High-G Jet Training

Adding to his recent high altitude and G-tolerance training, A4H member Dr. Erik Seedhouse completed unusual attitude training in a BAE Hawk 115 at 15 Wing of the Canadian Forces Base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The training allowed him to develop aerobatic skills to track and control aircraft motion paths during unusual attitudes and high G-forces.  His first-hand account of the exciting activity follows.

At 0700 on 17th May I went to the Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE) office for my G-suit fitting which took about 30 minutes. After being fitted, the G-suit was tested on a rig to make sure the thing inflated properly.  Once that was done I moved on to the helmet fit.  Then, it was time for a review of how the parachute works – how to steer, when to release the survival pack (that's the yellow pack you can under my backside), and what to do if you have 'twists'.


Next, it was time to visit the ejection seat trainer and take an ALSE exam on what to do and not do in the event of an ejection.


After all the ALSE preparation, I waited until the next day for the Hawk flight. The Hawk can reach Mach 0.88 in level flight and Mach 1.15 in a dive. The airframe is stressed for +9 g, but the normal service limit service is +7.5/-4 g. My flight was scheduled at 0855 on Wednesday. My pilot was a German exchange pilot – Hank - who had 3000 hours in the Hawk. We listened to the METAR weather report and had the flight brief before getting suited up and walking out to the aircraft: I was grinning like Cheshire cat!


We had lifted off and within seconds were flying at 500 knots. It was surreal, because there was hardly a sound and the jet was solid as a rock – no buffetting. Nothing!. Hank gave a running commentary of what he was doing as he cranked on the speed – 530, 540, 550. Beautiful. Above the clouds at 12,000 feet, he handed me control. Awesome – that was why that word was created by the way – to describe moments just like this – absolutely awesome. I flew some tight G turns and generally flew around the area before handing the controls back to Hank who demonstrated the high G onset – 6.5 G’s in less than half a second. Wow! The 1.3 hours went by way too fast. What a ride!




18 May 2011

More Space Beer News

Astronauts4Hire received global media attention in major TV, radio, print, and online news outlets following our September 2010 announcement that Vostok Pty Ltd had hired us to conduct microgravity flight tests of their new space beer.  After some flight schedule changes, we successfully carried out the first space beer test in February 2011, completing our first research contract as "astronauts for hire."  Several news outlets took note of this accomplishment, including Fox News, Discovery News, MSNBC, Slashdot, FOOD Magazine, Beer and Brewer Magazine, and Hemispheres Magazine (on United/Continental Airlines).

Hot on the heels of the successful final launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission, a new Reuters article titled "Australian beer hopes to boldly go into space" is making waves in the current news cycle.  Drawing upon interviews with Jaron Mitchell of the 4 Pines Brewery and Dr. Jason Held of Saber Astronautics Australia, as well as footage of the Astronauts4Hire Flight Member conducting the experiment, the video that accompanies the Reuters article does a great job explaining the goals and methods behind the project.



The Reuters article has spurred a windfall of new stories appearing so far in CBS News, Fox News, PRI's The World, Sydney Morning Herald, Toronto Sun, The Independent, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Guardian, New Scientist, Forbes, InnovationNewsDaily, Space.com, MSNBC, Discovery News, NTDTV, and CNTV.

A4H thanks the Vostok Space Beer partners for the opportunity to contribute to such a historic project.  The Principal Investigator of the experiment Dr. Jason Held had this to say about A4H:

We hired Astronauts4Hire to support our first microgravity flight experiment because of the demonstrated experience of their team and their ability to accomplish the job...  A4H delivered everything with consummate professionalism and diligence, with the attention to detail expected from medical and aerospace field research.  Thank you A4H!

If you have an experiment that needs tending or a product that needs testing in microgravity, A4H's versatile team of researchers is up for the challenge.


07 May 2011

A4H in Discover Magazine

The June 2011 issue of Discover Magazine includes a 2-page spread called "After the Shuttle: Astronauts for Hire." Featuring interviews with A4H President Brian Shiro and former NASA astronaut Ken Bowersox (now of SpaceX), the article focuses on how the astronaut profession is changing in the post-Shuttle era.  It highlights one of the most important reasons we started Astronauts4Hire in the first place: to recruit and train the next generation of astronauts for the new age of commercial spaceflight.  The article is available on newsstands now.  We thank Discover for taking an interest in A4H and the future of human spaceflight.

Other articles featuring A4H, including last year's New Scientist interview and the widespread media attention paid to our first job, are listed on our Media page.


29 April 2011

A4H Member Supports Experiments on Final Shuttle Endeavour Flight

The Space Shuttle Endeavour will soon lift off into history as it begins the STS-134 mission, signifying the penultimate orbital flight of the NASA Space Shuttle program. Flying aboard the vehicle will be student experiments bound for the International Space Station through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). The 16 experiments selected for flight include studies of cell biology, life cycles, seed germination, food preservation, and crystal growth.


During the 14-day mission, A4H co-founder Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto will monitor the experiments from the Kennedy Space Center, where she also helped prepare them for integration into the payload before the launch. After the mission she will retrieve samples from the experiments and return them to their respective Principal Investigators at schools across the country. Veronica Ann will help manage samples for use in ITA's Materials Dispersion Apparatus (MDA) and Liquid Mixing Apparatus (LMA) hardware. These will help investigate the effects of the absence of gravity on fluids. Both the MDA and LMA hardare are part of Commercial Reusable Experiments for Science and Technology (CREST-1) payload by American Aerospace Advisors, Inc.  You can watch the SSEP team hard at work on its live Ustream broadcast.

12 April 2011

Astronauts4Hire Completes First Orbit

Today is April 12, otherwise known as the Cosmonautics Day, Yuri’s Night, and the International Day of Human Space Flight. 50 years ago on this date, man first ventured into space and ushered in the era of human spaceflight. It was only fitting that the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle occurred on this date 30 years ago. Astronauts4Hire (A4H) shares its anniversary with these important milestones of space history. One year ago today we formed A4H, signifying a new chapter in the unfolding story of human spaceflight.

Inspired by the 2010 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, we started A4H to fill a need for highly qualified scientists to carry out research experiments on commercial spacecraft. After incorporating A4H as a Florida non-profit corporation, we proceeded to lay the groundwork for the organization. Over the months that followed, we expanded our team of astronaut candidates twice and now have 23 Flight Members plus 27 Associate Members in our ranks. Through the volunteer-based efforts of A4H members, we have created the world’s only commercial astronaut training cooperative and flight crew service.

A4H members at the 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference

28 March 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire, Survival Systems USA Enter into Training Partnership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 28, 2011

Astronauts4Hire, Survival Systems USA Enter into Training Partnership

Tampa, Florida – Astronauts4Hire is pleased to announce that it has entered into an exclusive training partnership with Survival Systems USA for the purposes of emergency spacecraft escape and surface water survival training. Survival Systems USA will provide A4H members with the knowledge and skills necessary to react appropriately to post-landing emergencies and successfully perform an underwater egress with and without an Emergency Breathing Device, and to care for themselves in a sea survival situation.

"Spaceflight missions are still a long way from becoming routine, and there is always real possibility that a failure in the launch vehicle or the de-orbit operation could occur," said Astronauts4Hire Chief Operating Officer Jason Reimuller. "Though manned spaceflight systems cover such contingencies with abort systems, the resulting abort trajectories often lead to a post-landing situation that might require the crew to egress the vehicle in one of a variety of environments, some of which may be hazardous and time-critical."

Emergency egress training is a required element of the training program that Astronauts4Hire astronaut candidates must complete to earn their qualification as Research Specialist Astronauts. After an extensive review of training providers, Astronauts4Hire chose to partner with Survival Systems USA because it offers the most comprehensive and applicable training program available.

"Underwater egress has long been recognized by the military aviation community as a necessary component of training. It has only been in recent years, that the commercial aviation industry began adopting similar training standards," said Survival Systems USA President Maria Hanna. "Although commercial space flight is in its infancy, we are excited to be part of this ground breaking effort with Astronauts4Hire in order to set the example that will affect this industry in the future."

The first Astronauts4Hire emergency egress training class at Survival Systems USA is scheduled for July 2011.

09 March 2011

NSRC 2011

The 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) was held in Florida last week. Like its predecessor that gave birth to Astronauts4Hire (A4H), this year's NSRC was very educational and inspiring. It was attended by more than 350 people, which was a significant increase from 2010. In the 10 months it has existed as an organization, A4H has come a long way, and the NSRC venue once again proved important for A4H to gain exposure and help further the suborbital research industry.


As a sponsor and exhibitor, A4H made three announcements at this year's NSRC, including the creation of our Senior Technical Advisory Council, the completion of our first flight contract as the world’s only commercial microgravity testing service, and the selection of nine new Flight Members. These all signify major milestones for A4H as it matures into a premier professional development organization for astronaut candidates. A steady stream of interested visitors stopped by the A4H booth to learn about us throughout the conference. Below is an excellent interview SpaceKate made with A4H Public Relations Officer Ben Corbin:

Listen!

In the Crew Training for Suborbital Spaceflight session, A4H Training Officer Dr. Erik Seedhouse presented the proposed A4H qualification standard members must meet to be certified by A4H as research and mission specialist astronauts. This spurred a healthy debate among attendees on what the role of standards should be in the industry. A4H Flight Member Dr. Mindy Howard presented on the human factors cabin design requirement tradeoffs for tourists versus researchers.

 

The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) made two notable announcements that it has made full deposits for six researchers to fly on XCOR's Lynx and two to fly on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo in order to carry out scientific experiments developed by its in-house technical staff. These are the first commercial contracts to fly scientists into space to conduct research experiments, and they represent big breakthroughs for the development of the emerging research and education market in suborbital spaceflight. The New York Times published a good article about the SwRI announcements.

Another focus of NSRC was NASA, which has recognized the importance of suborbital vehicles as research platforms through its new Flight Opportunities Program. The NASA program will open significant additional opportunities for researchers to fund experiments onboard suborbital vehicles. Presentations at the conference highlighted several potential areas of research ranging from planetary science and medicine to technology development and testing. The CSA and ESA have counterpart programs too. Of particular interest were presentations dealing with payload integration and the roles and responsibilities of payload specialists. For example, XCOR announced its new global network of Research and Educational Mission Payload Integrators for its Lynx suborbital vehicle.

While NSRC 2010 dealt with the “why” of suborbital research, this year’s NSRC focused more on the “how”. By the time of next year's NSRC, the "what" can be explored with results from initial research flights. A4H looks forward to this exciting year as the industry matures.


28 February 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Announces Selection of New Flight Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 28, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Announces Selection of New Flight Members

Orlando, Florida – Astronauts4Hire is pleased to announce the selection of its third class of commercial scientist-astronaut candidates. The nine new recruits were selected through a rigorous process that included consultation with former NASA astronauts.

"The selection process was painstaking," said Astronauts4hire Vice President and Membership Chair Jason Reimuller. "We received numerous applications and over the course of a month had to chose only a handful of applicants who showed just the right balance of professional establishment, broad technical and operational experience, and a background that indicates adaptability to the spaceflight environment."

The new Astronauts4Hire Flight Members are accomplished research professionals spanning diverse fields of science, engineering, and medicine:


"With the addition of these new members to the organization, Astronautst4Hire has solidified its standing as the premier provider of scientist-astronaut candidates," said Astronauts4Hire President Brian Shiro. "Our diverse pool of astronauts-in-training represent more than two dozen disciplines of science and technology, speak 16 languages, and hail from 11 countries. We can now handle a much greater range of missions in different geographic regions."

27 February 2011

Press Release: The Beer has Landed: Astronauts4Hire Completes Space Beer Microgravity Test

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 27, 2011

The Beer has Landed: Astronauts4Hire Completes Space Beer Microgravity Test

Orlando, Florida – Astronauts4Hire has completed its inaugural paid contract to test the world’s first beer designed for consumption in space. The experiment, which marks humanity’s first formal study on alcohol absorption in microgravity, took place aboard a parabolic trajectory microgravity flight out of Cape Canaveral, Florida operated by Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G). Yesterday’s flight was the first in a series of microgravity flights qualifying the beer recipe for consumption in space, funded in part by sales of the beverage on Earth.

The Vostok Space Beer, produced as a joint venture between Saber Astronautics Australia and the 4-Pines Brewing Company to serve the emerging space tourism market, is a high-flavor, low-carbonation stout designed for easy drinking both in microgravity and on Earth. Astronauts4Hire was contracted by the Vostok partners to provide the flight testing service.

Astronauts4Hire Flight Member Todd Romberger was selected to perform the flight research. Todd sampled the beer during 12 microgravity parabolas, each reproducing the weightless conditions of space for 30 seconds at a time, and recorded qualitative data on beverage taste and drinkability as well as biometric data to gain a first look at alcohol effects the body.

"It was exciting to participate in this ground breaking research," said Todd. "I'm happy to say the flight was a success. We provided the customer with the data they needed, and made a little history along the way. Not to mention, the beer was delicious!"

Saber Astronautics Australia Director Dr. Jason Held praised Astronauts4Hire (A4H), saying "this was a challenging experiment which physically stressed the body to test effects specific to drinking beer in microgravity. It also had many small and repetitive tasks required to get the biometric data, requiring a high degree of hand-eye coordination and concentration to meet strict reporting requirements. A4H and Todd in particular performed superbly."

Astronauts4Hire is honored to take a prime role in this research, helping to forge the path towards a robust commercial spaceflight industry.

26 February 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Announces Creation of Advisory Board Comprised of Astronauts and Astronaut Instructors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 26, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Announces Creation of Advisory Board Comprised of Astronauts and Astronaut Instructors

Orlando, Florida – Astronauts4Hire proudly announces the creation of its Senior Technical Advisory Council (STAC). This group consists of well-established human spaceflight experts who will provide technical and strategic guidance to Astronauts4Hire as it trains a new breed of professional commercial astronauts who can be hired to conduct space missions.

"With such well-respected professionals advising us, Astronauts4Hire gains tremendous credibility as an organization that can effectively train its astronauts to meet and exceed customer expectations," says Astronauts4Hire President Brian Shiro.

The initial STAC members include a former NASA astronaut, a former corporate astronaut, and two former astronaut instructors:

  • Dr. Scott Parazynski – Physician and former astronaut who has flown 5 Space Shuttle missions and conducted 7 spacewalks, Dr. Parazynski is an expert on human adaptation to stressful environments; he has climbed the world’s highest mountain and dived in its highest lake. He currently serves as Chief Medical Officer and Chief Technology Officer at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston.

  • Ken Trujillo – Senior System Engineer for Lockheed Martin and former NASA astronaut instructor, Mr. Trujillo’s experience spans hardware development, flight planning, test operations, and training astronauts on Crew Systems and EVA operations.

  • Dr. Leslie Wickman – Former Lockheed Martin Corporate Astronaut who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station programs, Dr. Wickman currently serves as Director of the Center for Research in Science at Azusa Pacific University and is a consultant on astronaut training and operations, spacesuit design, crew systems, spaceflight physiology, and more.

  • Lee Wooldridge – Independent human performance and training analysis consultant who led the team reviewing the Space Shuttle astronaut training system for Rockwell Space Operations Company after the Challenger accident and developed the International Space Station astronaut and controller training analysis for Barrios Technology.

The STAC will expand to include more experts as Astronauts4Hire continues to grow.

23 February 2011

Seedhouse Completes G-Tolerance Training

Less than a week after completing his High Altitude Indoctrination training, Astronauts4Hire member Dr. Erik Seedhouse underwent Gravity-Tolerance training at the Defence Research and Development Canada, Toronto (DRDC) centrifuge facility. The $25 million DRDC centrifuge has a 20-foot swing arm and is capable of safely spinning humans up to 9G (9 times normal gravity).

Erik performed 3 runs in the centrifuge that included gradual onset to 4G, gradual onset to 5G, and rapid onset to 5G.  He practiced the Anti-G Straining Maneuver (AGSM) for 10 seconds while at the maximum acceleration on each of the three runs.  This nearly completes Dr. Seedhouse's qualification as a Research Specialist Astronaut according to the A4H training standards, which Erik will present next week at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Orlando, Florida. A video of Erik's centrifuge training is available here:


21 February 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Schedule of Events During the 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 21, 2011

Schedule of Events During the 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference

Tampa, Florida – Astronauts4Hire will conduct a number of activities during next week’s Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC), providing important opportunities for the organization to connect with the suborbital research community. Unless otherwise noted, the events listed below will be held in the Student Union building on the University of Central Florida campus at 4000 Central Florida Blvd in Orlando.


18 February 2011

Seedhouse Completes High Altitude Indoctrination Training

A4H Flight Member Dr. Erik Seedhouse recently completed High Altitude Indoctrination (HAI) training at Defence Research and Development Canada, Toronto, which has a hypobaric chamber capable of simulating conditions up to 100,000 feet altitude.

The HAI Erik completed included a rapid decompression to 10,000 feet while he was breathing a Combined Altitude Depleted Oxygen (CADO) mix of 10%, which allowed him to reach an equivalent altitude pressure of 25,000 feet. While at 25,000 feet Erik completed various mathematical tests to experience the effects of hypoxia. Then he connected his air mask back to the regular air supply and descended.


07 February 2011

Press Release: Astronauts4Hire Joins the Commercial Spaceflight Federation as Research & Education Affiliate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 7, 2011

Astronauts4Hire Joins the Commercial Spaceflight Federation as Research & Education Affiliate

Tampa, Florida – Astronauts4Hire is pleased to announce that it has officially become a Research and Education Affiliate of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Astronauts4Hire joins research and education affiliates such as Purdue University, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, George Mason University, and the University of Central Florida that are interested in flying scientists and payload specialists onboard the new generation of commercial suborbital spacecraft.

"We are pleased to welcome the Astronauts4Hire nonprofit as an affiliate of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation," stated John Gedmark, executive director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. "The Astronauts4Hire organization is a diverse group of enthusiastic future scientist-astronauts, and its members have backgrounds ranging from engineering and aviation to astronomy and physiology. They are training for prospective future spaceflights and have volunteered to raise public awareness of the exciting potential of commercial spaceflight. Hopefully, members of the Astronauts4Hire group will be among the thousands of people who will fly to space in the coming years onboard commercial suborbital spacecraft."

Brian Shiro, a geophysicist and president of Astronauts4Hire, stated, "Astronauts4Hire is very excited to be joining the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and looks forward to productive mutual collaboration through projects like the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG) that raise awareness of the potential of commercial human spaceflight and enable the new industry to flourish."

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation and Astronauts4Hire are both proud co-sponsors of the upcoming Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, which will be held at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida from February 28 to March 2, 2011.

27 January 2011

A4H at the Commercial Human Spaceflight Technical Forum

Flight member Laura Stiles recently represented Astronauts4Hire (A4H) at the Commercial Human Spaceflight Technical Forum, hosted by Special Aerospace Services in Boulder, Colorado. The invitation-only two-day event provided experts in human spaceflight a forum to discuss what is necessary for industry success, particularly in relation to NASA human rating certification, training, medical qualification, and FAA commercial spaceflight licensing. Distinguished speakers included leaders in the aerospace industry such as Wayne Hale, Dr. Alan Stern, Tim Bulk, NASA Astronauts, FAA representatives, to name a few.


Attending the conference provided the opportunity to engage with people who are key to the Astronauts4Hire organization. For example, Laura met with former astronaut Scott Parazynski and many other accomplished and knowledgeable personnel who can potentially provide input to the A4H organization. Having an A4H representative at this forum was key to keeping at the forefront of the rapidly developing commercial human spaceflight industry.

A photo of Laura operating an experiment in microgravity was also featured in a recent Neon Tommy article about A4H.  Remember, A4H flight member applications are due February 5!