WASHINGTON – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), a Washington advocacy organization, has launched a new group led by former NASA associate administrator for science, Alan Stern, to promote the use of commercial suborbital vehicles for science and research and development.

While still at NASA, Stern sought to revitalize suborbital research and expand the program to include the use of piloted vehicles under development by Virgin Galactic, XCOR Aerospace, Blue Origin and others.

“Because some of these vehicles are approaching first flights in 2010 and 2011, it is crucial to start engaging with the broader scientific community as soon as possible to put payloads and scientists on these vehicles,” Stern said in a statement.

The Suborbital Applications Research Group plans to hold its first meeting Aug. 18 in Boulder, Colo.

In addition to Stern, the group’s members include: Steven Collicot of Purdue University; Joshua Colwell of University of Central Florida; Daniel Durda of the Southwest Research Institute; David Grinspoon of the Denver Museum of Natural Sciences; Richard Miles of Princeton University; John Pojman of Louisiana State University; Mark Shelhamer of Johns Hopkins University; Mike Summers of George Mason University; and Erika Wagner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.