2014 was a productive year for commercial space and for A4H. Companies like SpaceX, Boeing, and XCOR Aerospace achieved important milestones. The catastrophic losses with Orbital Sciences and Virgin Galactic have reminded everyone that spaceflight has risks. Triumph and tragedy alike teach us important lessons that help solidify the way forward.
Against this backdrop, A4H continues to grow its most important resource, its members, at a steady rate. With 170 people strong, our expanding network continues to have meaningful impacts in a variety of ways:
- For the past nine months, A4H has taken an active role in the Urgency Network's Ticket to Rise campaign. Entrants into the contest earn chances to win a ride into space aboard the XCOR Lynx by supporting eligible non-profits. A4H has been one of the campaign's top performers, raising over $6500 to date. We humbly thank everyone who has contributed so far; your reward gifts will be in the mail soon. With the money raised, A4H will be rolling out a new website early in 2015 and launching programs aimed at kickstarting commercial spaceflight opportunities. There is still time to make a year-end gift on the Ticket to Rise website. Watch this space for exciting new developments in 2015!
- Did you know that A4H went to space? On April 18, KickSat launched aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the CRS-3 mission. We were able to track the satellite’s telemetry as it orbited overhead with an amateur radio ground station. Unfortunately, KickSat burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere on May 13 before its master clock timer could deploy its 104 “Sprite” microsatellites, including the two that A4H had on board. The crowdfunded project was led by a Cornell University graduate student who says he will take the lessons learned and apply them to KickSat-2 in the future.
- In August, we published Issue #6 of The A4H News, a semi-annual magazine on commercial space news and A4H activities. With tens of thousands of viewers, this publication has become one of our most effective ways of reaching a wide audience. We thank you for your readership. Advertising opportunities are available for the next issue. Stay tuned for Issue #7 coming in early 2015!
- The A4H science working groups within A4H foster scholarship on topics ranging from aeromedicine to microgravity science and remote sensing. Members of these groups read and discuss journal articles, write about topics of interest, and incubate spaceflight experiment ideas. In late September, representatives from our life sciences working group presented a poster on space nutrition at the International Astronautical Congress in Toronto. More generally, A4H members frequently participate in a wide range of professional societies and conferences, serving as ambassadors for commercial spaceflight opportunities.
- The tragic loss of SpaceShipTwo and her crew during a test flight on October 31 sent shockwaves through the space community. Along with thousands of others, A4H has expressed its sincerest condolences to the families of those affected. We have promoted initiatives such as Move Forward Together and the Michael Alsbury Memorial Fund to honor the sacrifice of the Scaled Composites pilot.
- Finally, I am very proud to announce that A4H will host its first ever conference on April 30, 2015. The NewSpace Researchers Workshop (NSRW) will provide participants with knowledge and skills to develop research projects from ideas into flight experiments. Stay tuned for more details as we officially launch the workshop's website next month (now at nsrw2015.org)! The NSRW will occur in tandem with the Sea, Earth, and Space Summit (SES Summit) from May 1-3, 2015 in Houston, Texas. The summit will bring together bring together professionals from industry, government, and academia to explore the boundaries of human performance in the exploration of the sea, earth, and space. Registration is open now, and special pricing is available for A4H members. We encourage everyone to attend both events!
Moving into 2015, I am excited by what lies ahead. With a new membership website, a revised organizational structure that puts research first, and programs such as the New Space Researchers Workshop, A4H will re-invigorate the value it offers to its members and to the space industry in the year ahead. We will continue with outreach efforts to inspire would-be astronauts of all ages to pursue their dreams.
A4H is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit that relies upon volunteer efforts of our members, generosity of our sponsors, and collaboration with our partners to achieve our mission of expanding opportunities in the era of commercial spaceflight. If you believe in the transformational potential of A4H and want to support its innovative role in the commercial spaceflight industry, please consider making a tax-deductible year-end gift to help lay a strong foundation for A4H in 2014. You can click the "Donate" button on our website, give through Ticket to Rise, or contact us.
Thank you for your continued support of Astronauts for Hire and the growth of the commercial spaceflight industry!
President & CEO
Astronauts for Hire