Astrowright staff attended the inspirational and highly-energized 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researcher’s Conference (NSRC), which was held Feb. 28 to Mar. 2 on the University of Central Florida campus outside of Orlando, Florida.
As only the second conference of its kind, the meeting represented an unprecedented gathering of academic researchers and students, spacecraft manufacturers, policy makers, support service providers, and engaged professionals.
The meeting was convened by eminent planetary scientist and former NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Dr. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). Among his many NewSpace contributions, he helped to design the NASTAR Center‘s FAA-approved suborbital scientist training program that Astrowright charter payload specialists are slated to attend this year.
By creating NSRC and fostering the exchange of ideas and networking opportunities such a conference engenders, Dr. Stern appears to be catalyzing a revolution in commercial spaceflight by promoting sub-orbital spacecraft as not only a low-cost option for spaceflight participants, but also as a serious platform for cost-effective space science research. Astrowright was proud to have played a part and plans to participate more directly in the coming years.
This year, Astrowright staff presented the overview and rating scheme for our Superior Astronaut Integration and Flight Ergonomics (SAIFE) Certification to conference attendees, which included both spacecraft end-users (researchers) as well as spacecraft manufacturers and providers. The most notable spacecraft provider exchanges were made with the organizations Rocketplane Global and XCOR Aerospace. General reception of the SAIFE Certification scheme was overwhelmingly positive, and the experience provided invaluable user and provider feedback, leading to immediate and specific process and service improvements. (This in-and-of itself was a significant ROI on what was a very reasonable registration cost for conference attendance. Based on this experience, it is our subsequent belief that the impact of participation at future NSRC meetings can not be underestimated.)
The experience has firmly reinforced our belief that the NewSpace market is in specific need of both the manufacturer incentive to incorporate ergonomics and human integration best-practices as well as the means to communicate spacecraft attributes to potential end-users that SAIFE Certification provides. We look forward to the next NSRC meeting already scheduled for Feb. 27-29, 2012 in San Francisco, CA!
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