Washington, DC – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) applauds NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program for selecting a record number of promising technologies for commercial suborbital flight tests. U.S. commercial spaceflight companies have been leading the world in cutting-edge suborbital research in partnership with NASA’s Flight Opportunities program. Today’s announcement is an important milestone marking the further expansion of this government-industry collaboration.
Today’s awards will include the first NASA-funded human-tended research proposal. The selected human-tended proposal is from a CSF member company, the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and the experiment PI is planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern. The SwRI experiment will fly on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, a commercial reusable suborbital vehicle.
“At a time when a growing number of commercial space companies are providing low-cost and frequent access to the suborbital microgravity environment for humans and payloads, it is important for NASA to fully utilize these innovative capabilities to contribute to NASA’s broad portfolio of science, exploration, education, and technology development missions,” said Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “NASA’s announcement is an important step towards achieving that goal. We heartily applaud and thank NASA for its leadership and work to fully realize the game-changing power of the Flight Opportunities Program.”
The Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG) is the driving force within Commercial Spaceflight Federation for the Flight Opportunities community and it played a critical role in advocating for NASA to support suborbital human-tended research on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles. The SARG was created in August 10, 2009 to increase awareness of commercial suborbital vehicles in the science and R&D communities; to work with policymakers to ensure that payloads can have easy access to these vehicles; and to further develop ideas for using these vehicles for science, engineering, and education missions. Dr. Steven Collicott at Purdue University leads SARG for the CSF.