Scientists are betting on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles to advance the next frontier of science.
With utilization of the ISS reaching a maximum, and with its long-term future uncertain, a recent report recommends that NASA develop transition plans and make use of alternative platforms, including commercial vehicles, to carry out critical microgravity research.
The German Aerospace Center, Germany’s space agency, will fly two experiments on a suborbital flight by Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle later this year as part of an effort to diversify its microgravity research efforts.
NASA is seeking input from industry on plans to resume purchases of microgravity aircraft flights, possibly on a “purely commercial” basis, as two companies make plans to start or restart such services in 2015.
Now that ISS is fully operational with cargo haulers bringing experiments to and from orbit, NASA needs a killer app to convince the commercial sector that LEO is someplace they really need to be.