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Sun, Apr 07, 2013

First Space Hacker Workshop To Take Place In Silicon Valley

The Goal Is One Of 10 Spots On An XCOR Lynx Suborbital Flight

Citizen scientists and hardware hackers will learn how to do "space on the cheap" at the first Space Hacker Workshop for Suborbital Experiments, being held May 4-5 at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, California, across the street (literally) from NASA Ames Research Center. Participants at the two-day workshop will learn how they can build and fly experiments in space, and even fly in space as citizen astronauts, through the Citizens in Space program. The workshop is sponsored by Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, and the Silicon Valley Space Center.

Citizens in Space has purchased 10 flights on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft, now under construction at the Mojave Air and Space Port, which will be made available to the citizen-science community. "We're looking for 100 citizen-science experiments and 10 citizen astronauts to fly as payload operators," Citizens in Space project manager Edward Wright said. "This is a chance for citizen scientists to develop and test new technologies, like bioreactors and 3D printing, in zero gravity; to collect microorganisms from the extreme upper atmosphere; to experiment with new processes for creating new materials; and do many more cool things. The Space Hacker Workshop will provide participants with information and skills needed to take advantage of our free flight opportunities."

"Space is no longer the exclusive domain of NASA and university scientists," said Dr. Sean Casey, co-founder of the Silicon Valley Space Center. "Citizen scientists can build and fly fully functioning experiments for a few hundred dollars or less, thanks to technology developed here in Silicon Valley. With components available at Radio Shack or Fry's Electronics, citizen scientists can build instruments and experiments with more power than a NASA satellite from a few years back."

"Commercial spaceflight is the next high-tech revolution, making space a participatory frontier," said Dr. Alexander Saltman, executive director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. "This event will tap into the creative spirit that has made Silicon Valley a center of innovation for decades."

The Space Hacker Workshop will provide hands-on exposure to a variety of microcontrollers, sensors, imaging systems, and other components. With these components, participants will learn how to design and build microgravity, fluid-physics, life-science, and engineering experiments. Infinity Aerospace, which is developing the open-source ArduLab for low-cost space experiments, will be on hand to discuss the use of ArduLab hardware as a development platform. Also on hand will be representatives of XCOR Aerospace, which is building the fully reusable Lynx suborbital spacecraft, and NASA Ames Research Center.

Khaki Rodway of XCOR Aerospace will discuss the capabilities and requirements of the Lynx spacecraft. A panel of experts from NASA and industry will discuss research professional scientists have done in the past, prospects for new research on low-cost vehicles such as the Lynx, and opportunities for citizen scientists to build on the shoulders of NASA giants.

Project manager Edward Wright will be on hand to discuss Citizens in Space flight opportunities for experiments and citizen astronauts, including an exclusive glimpse at citizen-astronaut training activities planned for this summer.

(Pictured: Artist's concept of XCOR Lynx spacecraft carrying U.S. Rocket Academy payload)



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