SwRI to Build Solar Observatory to Fly on XCOR’s Lynx

Full-scale mockup of XCOR's Lynx suborbital space plane. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
A full-scale Lynx mockup. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Boulder, Colo., Oct. 22, 2012 (SWRI PR) — Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received funding from NASA to build a miniature, portable solar observatory for developing and testing innovative instrumentation in suborbital flight.

The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP) will fly on new, commercial manned suborbital craft, such as XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft, to enable spaceborne science and instrument development at a fraction of the cost of unmanned sounding rockets.

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SwRI Moves Up XCOR Lynx Experiment Flights

Boulder, Colo. — Feb. 27, 2012 — Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has reached an agreement with XCOR Aerospace, Inc. to conduct pioneering suborbital space missions with Institute payload specialist astronauts flying aboard one or two test missions in the XCOR Aerospace Lynx Mark I vehicle. The flights will test capabilities of the Lynx vehicle with actual researchers and research experiments aboard.

In 2011, SwRI and XCOR Aerospace inked a deal for six SwRI suborbital flights aboard Lynx, with options for three more. Today’s announcement moves the first such flights ahead of XCOR’s commercial services to be a part of XCOR’s Lynx test flight program.

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Commercial Suborbital Flights and Vehicle Development

Dr. Alan Stern
Dr. Alan Stern

Some notes from today’s Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference concerning upcoming flights and vehicle development. In this report: Southwest Research Institute, XCOR, Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Blue Origin and Teachers in Space.

Southwest Research Institute – Alan Stern

  • Eight flights on XCOR and Virgin Galactic vehicles, with options for up to 17 missions
  • SwRI scientists will fly after XCOR and Virgin Galactic have FAA licenses
  • XCOR flights will be on Lynx Mark I (maximum altitude of 61 kilometers)
  • Expect that flights will have occurred by the 2013 Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference
  • Previously spent nearly a decade to fly seven microgravity experiments; will be able to do eight flights within a year
  • Three experiments already prepared for suborbital flights
  • Flights will involve a “significant number of experiments”
  • Putting scientists back in the loop on experiments — less remote control
  • Scientists on board reduce the cost of automation, they can react to data on a real-time basis and make changes

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Southwest Research Institute Joins Commercial Spaceflight Federation

CSF PRESS RELEASE

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that the Southwest Research Institute, which recently committed funding to fly researcher-astronauts and their payloads onboard commercial suborbital spacecraft, has joined the Federation as an Executive Member, having received unanimous approval by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Board of Directors.

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SwRI Declares First NGSRC a Great Success

SWRI PRESS RELEASE

The Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) has brought the research and education communities together with suborbital vehicle providers and government funding agencies for the first time.

“When we conceived the idea for NSRC last summer, many people were skeptical that such a meeting would generate much interest. Honestly, some thought the research and education communities were simply not interested in suborbital science,” says meeting organizer Dr. Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute. “But people voted with their feet and came to NSRC, over 250 of them, and we heard an amazing variety of proposals to exploit the capabilities of next-gen suborbital spaceflight.”

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SwRI Launches $1 Million Program to Build and Fly Suborbital Experiments

XCOR's Lynx suborbital vehicle

SWRI PRESS RELEASE

Southwest Research Institute announces a new initiative to build and fly experiments with SwRI payload specialists on next-generation suborbital vehicles.

The program, supported with a $1 million allocation from SwRI, will be led by Dr. Alan Stern, associate vice president of the SwRI Space Science and Engineering Division. It is the first program of its kind in the nation.

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Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers to Meet in February

Students performe an experiment in microgravity aboard the Airbus A300 Zero-G plane.
Students performe an experiment in microgravity aboard the Airbus A300 Zero-G plane.

CSF PRESS RELEASE

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce its co-sponsorship of the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC), which is being organized in conjunction with the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

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