Nonprofit Organization Promotes Citizen Science And Space Exploration
The United States Rocket Academy welcomed last week's announcement that XCOR Aerospace will establish a new Commercial Space Research and Development Center in Midland, Texas. "Texas is on the verge of becoming the Space State," said United States Rocket Academy chairman Edward Wright. "XCOR will be the fourth company testing fully reusable suborbital rocketships in Texas."
Armadillo Aerospace and Blue Origin are already testing vehicles at Caddo Mills Airport near Dallas and Corn Ranch in West Texas. SpaceX will begin testing its reusable spacecraft at McGregor, Texas near Waco shortly.
The XCOR Lynx will be the next step forward for Texas: a piloted spacecraft which will carry humans as well as experiments. "Suborbital rocket ships will revolutionize human spaceflight, just as microcomputers revolutionized computing," Wright said. "This move will place Texas at the center of that revolution."
The United States Rocket Academy, a Texas-based nonprofit that promotes citizen science and space exploration, has already acquired a contract for 10 flights on the XCOR Lynx.
The United States Rocket Academy has created Citizens in Space, a program that is making suborbital spaceflights available to the citizen-science community. For its initial flight campaign, Citizens in Space will select 100 citizen-science experiments and 10 citizen astronauts to fly as payload operators. Three citizen astronaut candidates (two from Texas) are already in training. Seven more will be selected over the next 12-24 months. Experiments operated by citizen astronauts will include a NASA-inspired High Altitude Astrobiology experiment designed to find microorganisms at the edge of space.
Southwest Research Institute, headquartered in San Antonio, has acquired six flights on the XCOR Lynx. Dr. Alan Stern, former NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science, is leading a team of suborbital payload developers at SwRI. At Texas A&M University in College Station, the Space Engineering Research Station has signed an agreement to act as a payload integrator for XCOR Aerospace.
"Astronauts have been training in Texas more than forty years," Wright said. "Soon, rocket ships carrying astronauts will be flying from Texas spaceports. The road to space begins in the Lone Star State."
(Images Top: XCOR Lynx artist's rendering. Bottom: Armadillo Aerospace vehicle test)