Virgin Galactic is opening space to scientists, engineers, teachers, and even students.
Researchers and educators are eager to fly themselves and their experiments to space onboard SpaceShipTwo because of our frequent flights, the ability to carry as much as 1,300 pounds (600 kilograms) of research experiments and support equipment, and low pricing.
For decades, professional and student researchers alike have used parabolic aircraft and drop towers to conduct important research in a wide variety of those fields, even though those platforms offer only seconds of microgravity per flight and do not offer access to the upper atmosphere or space. Many of these researchers would like to gain additional data by flying their experiments to space on suborbital flights. Other experimenters are looking for a good way to test their equipment and calibrate their data prior to sending their experiments into orbit on board a small satellite or the International Space Station. Still other experiments must be guided or conducted by the researchers themselves, something that’s never been widely available prior to SpaceShipTwo.
NASA is an early customer of SpaceShipTwo’s research flights, through its Flight Opportunities Program. NASA has already announced twelve different experiments that are planned to fly on SpaceShipTwo’s first research flight, including cutting-edge experiments related to in-space 3D printing, on-orbit propellant depots, asteroid formation, and biological gene expression.
Interested in flying your own experiments to space? Download our Payload User Guide.