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

As a Research & Education Affiliate of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and a sponsor of the 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, A4H has established itself as an integral player contributing to the growth of the commercial spaceflight industry. While tourism is driving much of the current commercial space vehicle development, scientific missions have the potential to sustain the spaceflight market in the long term. A4H is building its cadre of scientific professionals from a wide array of disciplines to meet the emerging need for highly skilled scientist-astronauts who can safely and effectively provide operations expertise in support of scientific payloads onboard commercial spacecraft.

Last year, A4H made history when it was selected by Vostok Pty Ltd to test the physiological effects of a specially brewed beer under conditions of microgravity. Our first contract, which was completed in February 2011, signified A4H’s entrance as the world’s only commercial microgravity testing service for research experiments. Major news media outlets have given the project and A4H widespread public exposure, as have science-focused publications like New Scientist and Physics Today. This is only the beginning. Future contracts where A4H Flight Members serve as expert consultants on research flights with other clients representing different fields are in the works.

"We hired AstronautsForHire 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!"   --Dr. Jason Held

In consultation with former NASA astronauts and other industry experts, A4H has developed a comprehensive training plan to prepare its Flight Members for the rigors of spaceflight missions. A4H’s training scope goes well beyond that required of space tourists but is provided at great cost value relative to the training programs government astronauts undergo. Our first class of A4H Flight Members is scheduled to complete all training elements leading to qualification as Research Specialist Astronauts later this summer. Some of our training activities this summer will include completion of the NASTAR Suborbital Scientist Training Program and the Survival Systems emergency egress and sea survival courses.

Dr. Mindy Howard (left) and Dr. Erik Seedhouse (right) complete high-G centrifuge training.

Going forward, A4H strives to serve as the industry’s main focal point facilitating the professional development of astronaut candidates for suborbital, orbital, and missions beyond. Socrates once said, "Man must rise above the Earth -- to the top of the atmosphere and beyond -- for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” It is for that reason that Astronauts4Hire exists.

If you want to help A4H, or you think A4H can help you, please contact us and become a part of this exciting future. Thank you to all A4H supporters for helping make our first year such a success. We look forward to many more to come!