Day 1 of ISPCS 2010

I blew off a week of school to attend the 2010 International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight.  It was well worth it.  Thanks to the good people at the New Mexico Spacegrant Consortium, who not only put on the symposium but also paid for my ticket.  If you’re a student, look into what they can do for you.

This post contains my personal highlights of the symposium.  For the facts, you probably can’t beat Jeff Foust’s coverage of Day 1 and Day 2.

For me, it started on Tuesday.  I was asked to give a 5-minute talk on my Fachaba project.  I sat next to Rick Homans, the new executive director of Spaceport America.  He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s my future boss.

I got lots of interest and questions after our portion of the program.  Mark Severance, NASA’s ISS National Lab Education Projects Manager, wanted to talk to me about the payload, which to his delight I had in my backpack.  I’m not sure how my payload would be appropriate for ISS, since an inertial tracker would only tell us the position of the ISS, which we already know.  Plus, it wouldn’t work anyway – free fall = no forces = no accelerations = no readings from an accelerometer.  He was just interested in what we had done.  I get the idea that he loves his job.

Richard Mains, from NASA’s CRuSR program, made a beeline for me after the presentation.  His team is working on figuring out how to make the best use of the upcoming family of reusable suborbital vehicles to do research.  The traditional payload is expensive, generally not reusable, and takes two years to deliver.  We did ours in six weeks for $2500 and got it back intact.  He was very interested.  We swapped business cards.

Wednesday was Day 1 of the ISPCS conference proper, held at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.  I missed the first panel – I was tapped to assemble Virgin Galactic’s model of WhiteKnightTwo carrying SpaceShipTwo.  It was a somewhat daunting task – it came in two huge crates with no instructions, had a wingspan of around two meters, and probably cost more than a flight on the real vehicle!  But I figured it all out and got it assembled and on stage (with some help from the Two Aarons).  After that I settled in to enjoy the conference.

On a whim I pulled out my iPod Touch and got online and began posting tweets of items of interest, using the hashtag #ISPCS.  A couple of others were doing the same thing, notably Jeff Foust, Jeff Krukin, @spacecom, and Kevin Russell.  I picked up some followers (hi, folks!) and thank-yous (you’re welcome!).

After the panels we had a wonderful reception at the Hotel Encanto, put on by the Spaceport Sweden people.  They know how to throw a party!

My main takeaway from Day 1: I haven’t been paying enough attention to Masten Space Systems and Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Coverage of Day 2 will have to wait — I have a midterm tomorrow.  See you then!

About Doug

I grew up an Air Force brat and have visited every European country except those once behind the Iron Curtain (they wouldn't let my father in for some reason). Now I'm enrolled in the Aerospace Engineering program at NMSU in Las Cruces, NM.
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3 Responses to Day 1 of ISPCS 2010

  1. Steve Doyon says:

    Doug, sounds like you had a great trip. If you ventured any distance from Mojave, you probably saw a whole bunch of wind turbines towards the northwest (Tehachapi) – many of those are turbines owned by my company, Terra-Gen Power. We are in construction out there on the largest wind farm in the US – its pretty impressive if you have another chance to go up there. We know Stu Witt very well – he’s been a supporter of our project. What a small world!

  2. Steve Doyon says:

    Sorry, misfire on my previous post – I saw spaceport and assumed this was at Mojave Spaceport. Anyway, if you ever get a chance to visit Mojave Spaceport, its worth the trip. They have a scale model of SpaceShipOne that we (Terra-Gen) funded.

    S

  3. Doug says:

    Oh, I plan to visit the Mojave Spaceport. It’s kind of the Mecca for Space 2.0 enthusiasts. I’m going to try to get an internship there this summer.

    Speaking of models of SpaceShipOne, up the road in Alamogordo the Space Museum has a full-scale mockup on display.

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