Suborbital Scientists Prepare to Storm the Heavens

Suborbital Scientists Prepare to Storm the Heavens

Last month NASA selected planetary scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to conduct an experiment, funded by the agency, onboard a commercial spacecraft’s suborbital flight. Far from merely being a form of wish fulfillment for starry-eyed researchers, Stern says, sending scientists to space alongside their experiments can have practical benefits, too—such as reducing costs. So when NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate issued its first call for scientist-supervised suborbital flight experiments at the beginning of this year, a modified version of SWUIS seemed like a good fit. Wave of the FutureAlthough including scientists in space comes with its own rewards, getting there has been arduous. Once routine operations are underway, Stern hopes to see more and more astronomers and planetary scientists taking flight with their experiments.

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