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Encouraging Words

In his Senate testimony, Frederick Tarantino, head of USRA, made the following interesting recommendation:

I also want to bring to the subcommittee's attention an exciting new way in which university-led experiments with hands-on training could be boosted by NASA involvement. Within the next few years, suborbital commercial vehicles being developed by such companies as Virgin Galactic, XCOR Aerospace, Armadillo Aerospace, and Blue Origin, will provide a unique way to engage scientists and researchers. NASA has already taken the first step by issuing a request for information to help in the formulation of a Suborbital Scientist Participant Pilot Program.

By providing the opportunity for researchers and even undergraduate students to fly into space along with their experiments, not only can new experiments be conducted, but the opportunity can inspire students to engage in the math, science, and engineering. The participatory approach of the personal spaceflight industry means each suborbital launch can be experienced by thousands of people, with young people able to tune in and watch live video from space as their professors and fellow students conduct experiments in real time and experience weightlessness and the life-changing view of the earth from space. The hands-on experience will create a new generation of Principal Investigators who will be prepared to lead the flagship science and human exploration missions, later in their careers.

These new vehicles will provide low-cost access to the space environment for scientific experiments and research. The market rate for these services has already been set by the space tourist market at $100,000-$200,000 per seat, a much lower cost than existing sounding rockets.

We believe the commercial potential here could be energized by the participation of our space agency. USRA requests the subcommittee authorize NASA to follow through on the request for information by establishing the Suborbital Scientist Participant Pilot Program and issuing a NASA Research Announcement soliciting investigations. This will create a university research payloads market for these emerging commercial operations, provide a new way for university researchers to conduct experiments with student involvement and hands-on-training, and bring the involvement of NASA, and its imprimatur, to an exciting new U.S. industry.

Let's hope that the staffers were paying attention.


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on May 8, 2008 8:54 AM.

Dhimmification was the previous entry in this blog.

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