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."
In addition to featuring more than 80 presentations during nine sessions, NSRC, held in Boulder, Colo., Feb. 18-20, also included a public lecture night for Boulder-Denver residents, a multi-state university student contest and a press conference. NASA also turned out in force, with more than 20 participants, led by Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. Additionally, researchers from the U.S. Air Force and the Naval Research Laboratory, as well as six foreign nations attended.
Bretton Alexander, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, adds, "The Commercial Spaceflight Federation has been tremendously excited to be a co-organizer of the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference. This was a first-of-its-kind opportunity for scientists, engineers and vehicle developers to come together and explore the potential of these new vehicles for science, research, workforce development and education. We are looking forward to an exciting next few years in the commercial space sector, and the research and education communities are going to be a critical part of building this new industry."
"This really has been a watershed event for both the suborbital industry and the space research and education communities, demonstrating that the level of researcher/educator interest in next-gen suborbital is dramatically growing," adds Stern. "In fact, in response to the turn out at NSRC this week, Space Florida and the University of Central Florida have teamed together with us to host a second, larger NSRC meeting Feb. 28 to March 1, 2011, in Orlando, Fla. I'm looking forward to that already."
The inaugural NSRC meeting was jointly sponsored by the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the Universities Space Researchers Association (USRA) and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF).