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