Friday, March 19, 2010
Recently the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference was held and the organizers had a bit of a surprise. People showed up.
Suborbital research looks at the atmosphere higher than weather balloons can reach but lower than spacecraft can operate. This area is referred to as the ignorosphere. The reason this area has been ignored is in the past it was too expensive to study. Sounding rockets cost millions of dollars to reach that area.
Now, with billionaires Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic offering flights for $200,000 and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin expected to make flights to that area for roughly the same cost this area will be opened up to researchers with normal budgets.
These flights will also offer researchers 3 minutes of micro-gravity commonly referred to as zero g. Researchers can perform small scale experiments in the few minutes of micro-gravity without having to spend millions and wait years to take them up to the ISS.
This is a win-win for researchers, as the small-scale experiments will offer data that can be used on experiments on ISS making the very expensive research more efficient.
As space tourism gets more popular, more science can piggyback on these flights leading to a fantastic future.
BTW: Many people are probably wondering about the crazy headlines I’ve been using this week. The reason for them will be revealed Sunday.