T-minus 1 week: Aiming for NASTAR

2 05 2011

The NASTAR Center. (Credit: NASTAR)

I’m coming up on a positively Everest-ian milestone in my ongoing quest to become a commercial astronaut, and it’s been a long time coming:  Astronaut training.

Supported by my spaceflight consulting firm, Astrowright Spaceflight Consulting LLC, I’m heading out in a week to attend highly specialized training offered by the only FAA-certified civilian spaceflight training outfit around.

The location?  Philadelphia, PA, at the National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center.

NASTAR simulator-centrifuge. (Credit: NASTAR)

Among the NASTAR Center’s many aerospace services, not only do they provide generalized spaceflight training for the many civilian tourist “spaceflight participants” who are planning sub-orbital jaunts in the next couple of years, (e.g., on Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft,) but they also offer specific sub-orbital scientist training designed to prepare researchers to withstand the forces and avoid the distractions of spaceflight so that they can do what they’ve been wanting to do for (at least in my case) an entire career:

Perform quality science off-world.

For a taste of what the training is like, (which was developed in part by SwRI and NSRC civilian scientist-astronaut forerunner Dr. Alan Stern,) check out this excellent article written by Space.com contributor Clara Moskowitz, where she chronicles her experiences attending the program last October.

In addition to more traditional classroom instruction, the program involves thrilling (to me, anyway) “right stuff” rigors, such as oxygen deprivation training, high g-force (centrifuge) simulations of spacecraft launch and re-entry, and an array of supplemental components.

Needless to say, this training will help to round out our firm’s technical expertise so that we can begin offering expanded service beyond our current pre-flight fitness training and radiation dosimetry services into full-fledged (atmospheric) microgravity and sub-orbital payload specialist territory.

Many thanks to the family and friends that have helped me to get to this point, and it goes without saying that I’ll be blogging like a maniac as I head through the program.  Expect more on this in about a week.

T-minus 168 hours and counting…


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5 responses

2 05 2011
David

Wow, you must have gotten some serious seed money for your startup, Ben! Good luck out in Pennsylvania; I look forward to reading about your experience. =)

2 05 2011
astrowright

Thanks, Dave! It’s great to know that even with all of the sleepless nights and long weekends, there are friends out there who’ll be ready for a victory cold one when this all takes off. *grin* Re: money, I’ve quickly learned that funding is always an issue with getting something off the ground… a chicken-and-egg problem, but we’re just focusing on one step at a time and seeing if we can’t walk all the way to orbit(!) =)

Cheers,
Ben

3 05 2011
Stephanie, Gina and Erik's Mom

Hi Ben!
I love your webpage. Very interesting stuff, indeed. Question: Have you ever considered going into the military/space program?
Just wondering.
A new fan,
Stephanie
(Tell your Mom and Dad hello for me.)

4 05 2011
astrowright

Stephanie!

It’s been quite awhile! Thank you so much for reading and for your kind sentiments. Answer: I had considered seriously joining the Air Force on several distinct, separate occasions. However, I knew that my real passion was field science, which there isn’t really a place for in the military – so I got into industry field geology/hydrology/radiation science and banked on future commercial spaceflight providing an opportunity for me to do some serious field science in orbit… And maybe farther out.😉 So, it now looks like there’s a chance the gamble will pay off, and I’m grabbing on with both hands and holding on tight!

I’ll definitely tell my parents hello for you, I’ll try and keep engaging stories coming here on the blog, and I hope all is well on your side of the screen. =) take care!

Cheers,
Ben

8 05 2011
NASTAR: Day 0 – Part 1 « Astrowright

[…] NASTAR: Day 0 – Part 1 8 05 2011 Well, it’s 2:00 p.m. local time in San Francisco International Airport, and reality is starting to set in: After what amounts to 15 years of anticipation, I’m headed out to engage in FAA-certified civilian scientist-astronaut training at the NASTAR Center (reviewed in my previous post here)! […]

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