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SwRI Associate VP Alan Stern to Join NASA Commercial Space Flight Mission

Alan Stern Associate VP SwRI
Alan Stern, Associate VP, SwRI

Alan Stern, associate vice president of the space science and engineering division at Southwest Research Institute, has been selected to join a scientific team that will fly aboard a Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo vehicle to carry out NASA-backed experiments.

The suborbital mission will mark Stern's first travel into space and give him the opportunity to conduct astronomical research with the use of a former space shuttle and an F-18 camera technology, SwRI said Thursday.

SwRI added the planetary scientist will be subject to biomedical experiment via a wearable vital sign monitoring instrument designed to record his body functions from the beginning of the two-hour flight through the landing completion.

"This is the first selection of a private-sector researcher to fly with NASA funding on commercial vehicles," Stern noted, adding that the mission could open up opportunities for the researcher community and government-sponsored studies.

The agency updated solicitation guidelines for its Tech Flights program to allow “human-tended” experimentation inside commercially built spaceships.

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Written by Matthew Nelson

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