Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Researchers to begin first NASTAR suborbital spaceflight training course

Jan. 4, 2010 — The first spaceflight training course for suborbital scientists begins in Philadelphia Jan. 12 at The National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center, which provides training for the aerospace industry, as well as for suborbital spaceflight.

The intensive, two-day course includes classroom instruction, altitude chamber certification and centrifuge training for launch and reentry accelerations, designed to acquaint and qualify individuals with the physiological rigors of suborbital human spaceflight.

Led by Dr. Alan Stern and Dr. Dan Durda, Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) teamed with The NASTAR Center to organize the spaceflight training course.

"We are very much looking forward to the NASTAR course next week, which will be our first dedicated spaceflight familiarization activity. Later this year we'll build on that training with high-G, F-104 aircraft missions and zero-G aircraft flights to further familiarize ourselves with spaceflight environments," says Stern. "In addition to these spaceflight training activities, we're already preparing research experiments for suborbital spaceflight. We look forward to soon seeing these experiments scheduled for flight."

"The coming era of commercial suborbital spaceflight offers tremendous potential for the research and education communities," adds Durda. "The NASTAR suborbital scientist course will provide us with important additions to our previous experience in high-performance aircraft, as well as valuable new training specifically aimed at getting us ready for suborbital spaceflight. As researchers working in a challenging, dynamic environment like that, it's important to be well-prepared to make efficient use of the experiment time available to us in flight."

Stern, a commercial pilot and flight instructor, has been principal investigator on seven unmanned NASA suborbital rocket missions, has flown numerous high-altitude research missions in NASA WB-57 and F/A-18 aircraft, and has participated in research expeditions in both the arctic and Antarctic. He was previously the NASA Associate Administrator for science.

Durda, a planetary scientist, is an experienced SCUBA cave rescue diver, a former F/A-18 and KC-135 research mission flyer, and an instrument-rated pilot.

Other institutions sending researchers, students or educators to The NASTAR Center's spaceflight training course include Boston University, the Denver Museum of Natural Sciences, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Central Florida and the University Space Research Association.

For more information contact Maria Stothoff at (210) 522-3305, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.