Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2012

Dr. Cuttino gave a presentation on medical clearance for suborbital spaceflight today at the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2012 in Palo Alto, California. The talk covered the aspects of medical clearance, what types of problems could be expected in suborbital spaceflight, and the regulating mechanisms in place by the FAA. The talk was well attended and well received.

The keynote talk at the conference was given by Neal Armstrong who discussed the development and flight testing of the X-15

A link to the talk abstract can be found here:

Increasing the Technology Readiness Level

Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is a measure used by NASA, some United States government agencies and many of the world’s major companies (and agencies) to assess the maturity of evolving technologies (materials, components, devices, etc.) prior to incorporating that technology into a system or subsystem. Generally speaking, when a new technology is first invented or conceptualized, it is not suitable for immediate application. Instead, new technologies are usually subjected to experimentation, refinement, and increasingly realistic testing. Once the technology is sufficiently proven, it can be incorporated into a system or subsystem.

For NASA, TRL 6 involves system/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment (Ground analog, microgravity flight)

TRL 7 is a system prototype in a space environment, and TRL 8 is an actual system completed, and “flight qualified” and evaluated for the space environment.

Usability and feasibility in microgravity

In space the lack of gravity has an often-unexpected influence on devices and their operation. Many devices that were developed for the terrestrial environment will simply not work in zero gravity. By having experienced researchers to assist with the development of your product, we can help insure a smoother testing and development phase.

Usability and feasibility in hypergravity (2 to 6 g’s)

Just as the factors of microgravity significantly change the operation of the device, when the device changes the effective weight during acceleration, unforeseen consequence can occur. An example from my own research demonstrates that the safety devices on IV needles will spontaneously fire during a hypergravity load of as little as 1.5 g, rendering them useless for gaining IV access.