Enhancing Commercial Suborbital Vehicle Utilization and Collecting New Suborbital Scientific Data

PI: Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute - San Antonio, Daniel Durda (Co-I), Southwest Research Institute - Boulder

Researchers at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) aim to Enhance Commercial Suborbital Vehicle Utilization and Collect New Suborbital Scientific Data during human-tended flight. The flight testing will (1) investigate an existing broadband imaging system to assess its viability for capturing video of astronomical events filmed through the window of a suborbital crew capsule and (2) evaluate a biomedical harness for collecting in-flight heart rate and blood flow data.

Technology Areas (?)
  • NA
Problem Statement

Commercial suborbital vehicles have the potential to benefit many areas of research including terrestrial and space-based remote sensing, microgravity studies, and space flight physiology. However, no characterization of suborbital vehicle windows has been performed to evaluate their potential for use in future Earth atmospheric, planetary, and stellar astrophysics research.

Technology Maturation

Researchers will fly two experiments on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo: (1) an experimenter-operated imager to characterize the efficacy of suborbital vehicles for astronomical and Earth imaging and (2) instrumentation to conduct suborbital biomedical research using the experimenter. The results of both flight experiments will be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Future Customers

•Atmospheric science, planetary astronomy, and astrophysics
•Commercial suborbital flight providers
•Space-based medical research

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights20 (Sep 2020)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 sRLV

Development Team

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