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Fri, Mar 23, 2012

Experimental Payloads Selected For Commercial Suborbital Flights

Twenty Four Experiments To Fly On Suborbital Launch Vehicles, Zero-G Aircraft, Balloons

NASA's Flight Opportunities Program has selected 24 cutting-edge space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons and a commercial parabolic aircraft.

Sixteen of the payloads will ride on parabolic aircraft flights, which provide brief periods of weightlessness. Five will fly on suborbital reusable launch vehicle test flights. Two will ride on high-altitude balloons that fly above 65,000 feet. One payload will fly on the suborbital launch vehicle and high-altitude balloon platforms. The flights will take place in 2012 and 2013.

Flight platforms include the Zero-G parabolic airplane, Near Space Corp. high altitude balloons and reusable launch vehicles from Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, UP Aerospace and Virgin Galactic.

"NASA's Flight Opportunities Program leverages investment in commercially available vehicles and platforms to enable new technology discoveries," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These flights enable researchers to demonstrate the viability of their technologies while taking advantage of American commercial access to near-space."

The "Structural Health Monitoring for Commercial Space Vehicles" payload from Andrei Zagrai of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, will fly on a suborbital launch vehicle and a high-altitude balloon.

NASA manages the Flight Opportunities Program manifest, matching payloads with flights, and will pay for payload integration and the flight costs for the selected payloads. No funds are provided for the development of these payloads. Other suborbital flight vendors on contract to NASA will provide flights after they have successfully flown their qualifying vehicles.

FMI: http://flightopportunities.nasa.gov

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