Commercial spaceflight industries are looking to increase access to space, from tourists to scientists, the leaders said at the annual International Symposium on Personal and Commercial Spaceflight at the
"I think ultimately our success as an industry will be defined not by the big government contracts we win but by opening up the frontiers for those who have nothing to do with the government and are willing to pay their own dollars," Isakowitz said.
The emerging industry is taking traditional aerospace technologies and using them in different ways to enable regular access to the suborbital environment, said
"I think all of us are managing these operations as a business enterprise," he said. "We want more customers outside the government."
Diverse funds, uses
Students, from elementary students to Ph.D candidates, can soon send research projects into suborbital space, said
She mentioned scientists looking to use suborbital spaceflight to study noctilucent clouds, the highest clouds in the Earth's atmosphere that fall within the suborbital range. The clouds are studied from the
Funding isn't limited to federal pocketbooks either, Rodway said, mentioning a Ph.D. student's Internet fundraising campaign to send his dissertation experiment into suborbital space. An elementary school teacher is asking businesses, from
"There are all kinds of interesting ways to get this funding," Rodway said. "... You can't rely on the government any more. ... There is more interest. There is more excitement. There are innovative ways to get this funding." Five years outIsakowitz postulated that more commercial fliers will enter space than government fliers within the next five years.
About 650 space tourists have tickets for suborbital
"The first generation of people that are flying with us are adventurers; they want to be the first," he said. "There's a bigger crowd standing behind them that are sort of waiting to see what will happen then go out and live their life dreams."
Rodway expects to see more people and more vehicles regularly entering space. States across the country are building commercial spaceports, from
"It seems like there's one being talked about every week," she said. "... Not only are we all building companies, we're building an industry. That's what you have to look out for. It's blossoming."
The industry's relationships with the states developing spaceports have been strong, Alexander said.
"States are really investing in the infrastructure to bring businesses to places, like
Yet every state is regulating differently, Isakowitz said, noting the industry's push to "don't legislate us out of business."
The company initially planned for a launch around Christmas of this year, but has since pushed back the date until 2014.
"We're hopefully moving quickly to getting our operating licenses," Isakowitz said. "Being the first in anything as we are in this area has its challenges."
The company has hired three pilots to fly the WhiteKnight spaceship and will be "taking over these vehicles very soon," he said.
"We have a lot of stuff that's going to be showing up at the spaceport in the coming weeks," he said.
Customers have been patient while the company has developed technologies and delayed launch dates, he said.
"They've been a heck of a lot more patient than the media or the industry," he said. "They really want us to get it right."
Commercial spaceflight will also help increase access to the
The multi-nation, habitable satellite in low Earth orbit is a research laboratory for everything from medical discoveries to the effects of long-term space trips.
The station is home to research on bone density, muscular dystrophy and cancer, Elbon said, noting many medical discoveries onboard have been key steps to curing diseases.
The station is also a research outpost to test and build large structures in space, he said. It also serves as a testing ground for how to live in space, information for future long-term missions to Mars or asteroids, he said.
Commercial cargo and crew will lower the cost of supplying the station and increase access to scientists looking to conduct experiments in space, he said. More space stations, such as the proposed Chinese station and
"If we're going to continue the station, we have to make access routine and more affordable," he said.
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