28 March 2011

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


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:


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.