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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Space: The Northern Frontier

23 05 2010

So, you want to build a rocketship?

-Lines like these are sprinkled across advertisements during the 1960s for everything from whiskey to sprinkler manufacturers, painting themselves as part of a brighter future.  So, with expectations 50 years ago set so high, in many respects the 21st Century to them would be something of a disappointment.

However, we’re starting to rise to the challenge of our fathers’ imaginations, and for those with starry-eyed dreams of spacecraft shipyards and a future on orbit, Frontier Astronautics of Chugwater, Wyoming may be your answer.

Wyoming Atlas-E silo, ca. 1960s. Credit: Frontier Astronautics

Utilizing a converted Atlas-E missile silo, the young, first-of-its-kind corporate space development company offers a full spectrum of spacecraft development services and products, from indoor and outdoor rocket engine test areas, vehicle design and assembly services, onsite cranes, a machine shop and storage space, and they even produce commercial quantities of rocket-grade hydrogen peroxide onsite.  To top it off, they’re in the process of applying for an official FAA space launch site license, making them the second private spaceport in the country (if approved).

Check them out.  Tell your friends.  Keep your rocket dreams alive, or perhaps let your imagination take flight for the first time.  This place is real.

I know in my bones that it’s outfits like these that will change the space game forever.








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