2011 Next-Gen Suborbital Researchers Conference a hit, 2012 follow-up conference planned

March 1st, 2011
The Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) held in Orlando, Fla., this week set records for the number of presentations, sponsors and attendees. The annual conference brings the research and education communities together with suborbital vehicle providers and government funding agencies to explore the exciting new era of suborbital spaceflight.

"When we first conceived the idea for NSRC, many people were skeptical that such a meeting would generate much interest. Some even thought the research and education communities were simply not interested in suborbital science," said NSRC organizing chairman Dr. Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute. "But just as in 2010, people have voted with their feet and come to NSRC by the hundreds. And once again we heard an amazing variety of proposals to exploit the capabilities of next-gen suborbital spaceflight — in fact, the number of presentations by researchers and educators increased 40 percent over last year. Clearly, many people are very interested in the capabilities that next-gen suborbital can provide to the research and education communities."

In addition to featuring more than 120 presentations spread among 20 technical sessions, this year's NSRC also featured four discussion panels, a press conference, presentations or booths by 25 sponsors, and a public evening presentation by Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides.

"The interest from researchers in these new commercial suborbital spacecraft was immediately apparent at this week's Florida conference," added Bretton Alexander, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. "The excitement in the air was contagious. It's becoming increasingly clear that scientists and educators can't wait to put payloads and experiments onboard these vehicles."

"This year's NSRC, like 2010's, has been a galvanizing event for both the suborbital industry and the space research and education communities, demonstrating that the level of researcher and educator interest in next-gen suborbital is dramatically growing," added Stern. "In response to the high turnout at NSRC in Orlando, we are today announcing that NSRC-2012 will take place in the San Francisco area next February 27-29, and will be hosted by NASA Ames Research Center. I'm looking forward to that already!"

Provided by Southwest Research Institute

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