Citizen In Space Astronauts Pass Training ‘With Flying Colors’

Lee Rannals for – Your Universe Online

Four citizen-astronaut candidates have completed training with flying colors, setting themselves up to fly aboard the XCOR Lynx spacecraft one day under the Citizens in Space program.

Citizens in Space is an organization that aims to take the laboratory that space offers to citizen scientists, opening up the door for research in a ground-breaking way. Part of the organization’s plan is to allow citizen scientists to fly experiments in space during one of the 10 flights it has purchased on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft. The experiments and flights will be done by 10 citizen astronauts acting as payload operators.

Citizens in Space announced this week that four of its astronaut candidates completed training at the National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center. NASTAR is the premier aviation and space training facility, and Citizens in Space said its candidates all passed the test with “flying colors.”

“This physiological training is essential preparation for the functions we will perform during our missions,” said Colonel Steve Heck of the United States Air Force in a statement. “To perform our tasks as payload operators, we must be familiar with every aspect of the flight environment in both normal and emergency situations. I am happy to say that all of our citizen-astronaut candidates completed NASTAR training with flying colors.”

The four citizen astronaut candidates also were involved in experiments on a ViSi mobile device, which is an advanced biomedical sensor manufactured by Soterra Wireless. This device is a next-generation, wireless vital-sign monitoring system that could be used in spaceflight or a simulated-spaceflight environment.

“This could open the door for using the device to collect actual data during our future training as well as operational space missions,”said Edward Wright, a researcher at NASTAR.

Citizens in Space, a United States Rocket Academy project, currently plans to conduct a total of at least 100 citizen-science experiments.

“New technologies are making it easier for private citizens to become involved in the scientific process,” the organization said. “The development of low-cost reusable suborbital spacecraft will be the next great enabler, allowing citizens to participate in space exploration and space science.”

The Lynx spacecraft is currently under development by XCOR Aerospace. The spacecraft will be a fully reusable, horizontal flying vehicle that is intended to perform a variety of scientific and commercial missions.

Unilever Group and Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) recently purchased 22 flights on the Lynx spacecraft for the company’s space-themed AXE Apollo campaign. The company said it plans to give away one of the flights to a lucky winner from a drawing just after the Super Bowl, and the rest after a year-long, 60-country promotional campaign.

“When a global brand leader like Unilever makes a significant commitment to a product like our Lynx, it is a clear sign that commercial spaceflight has entered the main stream of worldwide commerce and truly is the Next Big Thing,” said Andrew Nelson, Chief Operating Officer of XCOR Aerospace. “Expect to keep seeing more good news from SXC as they ramp up in 2013!”

Suborbital flight tickets aboard a Lynx are now available for $95,000 per flight. This price includes medical screenings and G-Force training at one of XCOR’s operating locations.