The first Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference just concluded in Boulder, Colorado with a larger-than-anticipated turnout (250) including movers and shakers from NASA, the commercial launch industry, and the scientific community. The Conference was an interesting mix of programmatic presentations from NASA, which has proposed $15 million/year for research missions on commercial suborbital vehicles (think SpaceShipTwo from Virgin Galactic, or New Shepard from Blue Origin), presentations from the many companies involved in the commercial launch sector, and an eclectic mix of scientists and educators looking for ways to utilize this new capability to reach the lower bounds of space. By all accounts, including mine, the meeting was a resounding success. Which of course just raises the expectations for next year’s conference which is being organized by – wait a minute, this can’t be right: by me! So mark your calendars for February 28 – March 2, 2011, on the main UCF campus in Orlando for the second go-round. By then, commercial suborbital vehicles may be flying to space.

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JC

Planetary Scientist and Asst. Professor of Physics at University of Central Florida; Movie Buff; Trekkie; Jethro Tull fanatic; part-time actor, piano player, writer; and full-time husband and father.

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