Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference is upon us again. Last year I had the benefit of living right next to where the first one was in Boulder CO, and I got to taste the exhilaration of a beginning. This year we're at opposite ends of the country, as I am in Seattle Washington while NSRC is in Orlando, Florida.
Last year I met Veronica Zabala at the conference and soon thereafter, together with Brian Shiro, Joe Palaia and others founded what we later named Astronauts4Hire, a non-profit aimed at being a catalyst to the new industry of commercial manned spaceflight and a source for training programs, scholarships and, well, astronauts for hire.
A year has passed since the inception of the organization. Countless virtual meetings and a handful of physical ones later, and we are an organization of fourteen flight members (more very soon) from varying backgrounds who share a vision and a twinkle in their eye at the thought of flying into space, and are actively investing their own time and money and training to become flight worthy, as well as define standards and form ties with other organizations such as ZeroG and Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
Although I'm not going to bet there personally, Astronauts4Hire will have a significant presence at NSRC. We will announce new flight members as well as the advisory board and discuss the zero gravity beer flight which will have happened a few days before then. Astronauts4Hire members will also present and participate in panels about subjects such as suborbital astronaut qualifications and flight training.
Timing of NSRC this year is great - after many delays Discovery will make it's final ascent into orbit getting manned spaceflight one more step towards the end of the Space Shuttle era, Astronauts4Hire will make its first flight on a ZeroG flight to taste beer in zero gravity and in anticipation of the first suborbital test flight by Virgin Galactic by the end of the year.