Microgravity Services: Suborbital flight for scientific and commercial use

A new spaceflight industry is growing to exploit high flight frequency and relatively low cost markets. Telespazio VEGA has been actively promoting the emerging market of commercial suborbital spaceflight over the last decade and has pioneered initial steps to interconnect the European community with first flight opportunities.

Historically, the access to high quality microgravity environments in Europe is limited, costly, bureaucratic and time consuming. Both scientific and commercial domains can greatly benefit from performing research & development in microgravity conditions, which subsequently boosts European technology and innovation.

New entrepreneurial ventures are developing commercial space launch systems to serve both existing and new markets. These new ventures are focusing their efforts on suborbital reusable launch vehicles (sRLV), capable of crossing the threshold of space (100km) and typically offering 3 to 5 minutes of microgravity with payload recovery. The configuration of the launch systems includes both vertical take-off/landing rockets and horizontally launched winged vehicles. A number of sRLV – mainly from the US – are currently in active development or operation as shown in the following figure.

Our experience

Telespazio VEGA has taken the initial steps discussed during the workshop SubSpace 2011 and Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) in 2012 with our flight brokering services. Two German universities were the first clients to take the opportunity of flying their scientific payload – material science experiments with fluids and gases - onboard Armadillo Aerospace’s sRLV named “Suborbital Transport with Inertial Guidance” (STIG-B). Telespazio VEGA has since been actively promoting the rapidly emerging market of commercial suborbital spaceflight.

Our end-to-end services

It is our goal to enable organizations to take advantage of the opportunities offered by sRLVs.

With commercial suborbital space access providers on one hand, and the scientific/commercial communities with R&D experiment types on the other, we offer the bridging factor between these domains to smooth the suborbital flight process.

Telespazio VEGA provides an end-to-end package of services for each key step of the suborbital flight, from initial enquiry through payload integration, to the return of the payload to its customer after the flight. In detail, the following services are included:

  • Optimal platform selection amongst the launch providers
  • Logistics services to transport the experimental payload to/from the launch site
  • Contractual services to ensure all legal, regulatory and fiscal requirements are fully met
  • Integration services to ensure the payload can operate as expected aboard the vehicle
  • Operations support from pre-launch through payload recovery
  • Consultation services to tailor current and future customer needs to specific flight services

Since Telespazio VEGA offers sRLV flight services via a range of systems and operators, it allows customers increased flight opportunities and reduced costs.  We help to choose the right vehicle for the particular experiment, considering all aspects of a successful suborbital flight.

Opportunities for you

Diversity

There are many different research areas that can currently benefit from suborbital space access as well as lesser known future applications and markets. Basic and applied research under microgravity has great potential in the domains of life sciences (including human physiology), physical sciences, technology and environmental sciences. Material production and testing can take advantage of the reduced sedimentation and buoyancy environment. Brands and products flown on suborbital vehicles can be promoted with an innovative, prestigious, and high tech angle. In addition, these suborbital vehicles can open up other capabilities such as satellite deployment and remote sensing.

Benefits

New entrepreneurial ventures are developing sRLVs to provide a competitive way to access microgravity. They seek to offer a more flexible, efficient, cost-effective and frequent access to space for spaceflight participants and payloads. SRLVs will be able to achieve much higher levels of reliability and safety than expendable vehicles.

These sRLV companies are creating a new spaceflight industry targeting high flight rates, quick turnaround, and relatively low costs. Across providers, operational capabilities include delivering up to 450 kg of cargo capacity to an altitude over 100 km, providing several minutes of microgravity and performing up to multiple flights per day. As a result, these untraditional suborbital vehicles will be less expensive per minute of microgravity than traditional platforms (drop towers, parabolic flights, and sounding rockets).

Contact us

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