SERC at Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference

Photo of full-scale mockup of the XCOR LynxThe Texas A&M Engineering and the Space Engineering Research Center (SERC) received mention in two separate presentations at the recent Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) June 3-5 in Broomfield, Colo. 

Ed Wright of Citizens in Space discussed the experiment payload carrier that the SERC is developing with a student team from the Texas A&M University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering for the XCOR Lynx Space Plane. The team's faculty mentor is Dr. Justin Yates. This presentation, “The Lynx Cub Payload Carrier for Small Suborbital Experiments,” discussed the development and operational use of the carrier on the Lynx and some of the citizen payloads being considered. These payloads, built to multiples of the cubesat size standard, will allow researchers to perform experiments for a few minutes in near-zero-gravity (weightless) conditions.  In addition to recognition through this presentation, the student team built a mid-fidelity mockup of the carrier that was displayed at the XCOR display station.

Pictured: Full-scale mockup of the XCOR Lynx parked outside (above left) and the mid-fidelity Lynx Cub Payload Carrier mockup next to a Lynx Model (below right).

SERC was also part of the team that Photo of mid-fidelity Lynx Cub Payload Carrier mockup next to a Lynx Model developed the Multi-Phase Flow Experiment for Suborbital Testing (MFEST) as presented by Mike Ellis of Advanced Cooling Technologies. MFEST is a NASA Johnson Space Center project and Ellis reported on the recent series of parabolic test flights conducted on Zero G Corp.’s aircraft. SERC principal investigator Dr. Cable Kurwitz and flight test engineer Dr. Frank Little helped to ensure the return of sufficient test data to verify MFEST’s readiness for a follow-on flight test series on one of the commercial suborbital launch providers as part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. Because of the size of the MFEST payload, the suborbital flight provider is expected to be Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two. Spaceship Two recently conducted its first powered flight at Mojave, Calif., and is hoping to begin commercial flights as soon as a year from now.

The Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference brings together launch providers, payload developers and new space technology enthusiasts to update attendees on the status of the commercial space industry, and to share ideas and opportunities. Commercial space is loosely defined as pertaining to a business model of providing space transportation for humans or cargo and the associated support industries, and generally pursued without government program funding. This is the second year that SERC Director Chip Hill has attended this conference to develop relationships and ideas for future commercial space projects.

TEES is an engineering research agency of the State of Texas and a member of The Texas A&M University System.