10 March 2012

NSRC 2012

The 2012 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) was held in Palo Alto, California last week. Like its predecessors that gave rise to Astronauts4Hire (A4H), this year's NSRC provided a stimulating environment for approximately 450 attendees to discuss research and educational applications on suborbital vehicles. A record 34 organizations, including A4H, sponsored the meeting, which boasted a rare keynote address by Apollo Astronaut and X-15 Test Pilot Neil Armstrong, who is pictured with A4H Flight Members Seedhouse, Shiro, Altman, and Reimuller below. Armstrong's participation in the conference signified the growing relevance and importance of suborbital spaceflight.

More than a dozen A4H members and partners presented on a number of topics ranging from A4H's two years of remarkable growth to its commercial astronaut training programs. It seemed like hardly a session at the meeting passed without someone affiliated with A4H presenting. The photos below highlight talks given by Brian Shiro and Dr. Erik Seedhouse and posters presented by Dr. Mindy Howard and Brian Shiro with their co-authors. A full listing of A4H-related presentations given at NSRC is in our January 24 press release.



A4H partners spoke about several A4H-related projects too. Dr. Ravi Komatireddy of Vital Space presented twice on the new Sotera Wireless Visi MobileTM biometric monitoring system and the upcoming parabolic flights with A4H test subjects. Janna Kaplan of the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory presented twice on the space motion sickness and disorientation training protocols developed jointly with A4H. Dr. Andrew Blaber of the SFU Aerospace Physiology Lab presented a proposed joint human factors training and research initiative with A4H too. Komatireddy and Kaplan are pictured below.


NSRC is the premier gathering of suborbital researchers, educators, and spaceflight operators. Therefore, it is a prime venue for media coverage related to those areas too. A4H issued two press releases in connection with NSRC. The first announced our upcoming parabolic flight campaign with partner Vital Space through the NASA Flight Opportunities Program, and the second outlined the proposed A4H Research Specialist and Operations Specialist Astronaut qualifications. In addition, A4H President Brian Shiro was interviewed for the March 2 episode of The Space Show, which you can conveniently listen to below (starting at approximately the 30-minute mark).

Other notable announcements at the 2012 NSRC included the NASTAR Center's new training courses, SwRI and XCOR's flight testing partnership, XCOR secured funding to build it Lynx vehicle and announced its new Lynx payload integrators, and Virgin Galactic teamed up with Nanoracks to fly research payloads. The event was rounded out with an informative NASA Flight Opportunities panel (featuring the Vital Space-A4H project) and inspirational keynotes by Virgin Galactic chief pilot David MacKay, Challenger Center for Space Science Education founder Dr. June Scobee Rogers, and FAA Associate Administrator Dr. George Nield.

While the past two NSRC's dealt with the "why" and "how" of suborbital research, this year's gathering focused more on "what" applications can be carried out on suborbital platforms. A4H continues to help lead the way as the industry matures, and we are happy to have had such a strong presence at NSRC 2012. We thank all of the organizers at SwRI and the CSF for putting on such superb conference.

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