Other conference announcements

Besides the developments by several vehicle operators, there have been a number of other announcements by various organizations at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference. The biggest, in the plenary speech by NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, is that NASA has requested $15 million for the Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) program in its FY11 budget. That’s a major increase over the $2.5 million the program is getting in the current fiscal year, split among the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD), Science Mission Directorate (SMD), and the Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP). The $15 million in the FY11 budget proposal would come entirely from IPP. In addition, Garver said the five-year budget plan funds CRuSR at the same level throughout the period (although that is subject to change from year to year.)

Other organizations are putting up money for suborbital research as well. The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced it’s allocating $1 million to commercial suborbital research efforts, specifically to “build and fly experiments with SwRI payload specialists on next-generation suborbital vehicles.” This effort is led by Alan Stern, who has been one of the leading proponents of “research and education market” (REM) uses of commercial suborbital vehicles.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, meanwhile, is expanding its membership to include academic affiliates. Purdue University, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, and George Mason University are the initial four institutions affiliating themselves with the CSF, a NewSpace industry organization.

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