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Dr. Alan Stern, Tuesday, 2-7-12 February 8, 2012

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Dr. Alan Stern, Tuesday, 2-7-12


Guest:  Dr. Alan Stern.  Topics:  The upcoming Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2012 followed by a New Horizons and Pluto update.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed back Dr. Alan Stern for this special one hour program to discuss the upcoming Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference to take place in Palo Alto, CA from Feb. 27-29, 2012.  Note that registration rates increase after Feb. 10th so for those of you interested in attending, you should register before the cut off date if possible. To find out more about this conference and suborbital scientific research, visit http://nsrc.swri.org.  During the first half of the program, Dr. Stern told us about the conference and fielded many questions about suborbital flight and science research.  Not only did we go through the keynote speakers, the conference format, and the possibility of winning a ride on an XCOR Lynx once you register, we talked about the NASA Flight Opportunities Program (https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov), foreign interest in suborbital spaceflight and research, international spaceports, and the leasing of the vehicles much as is done in the airline industry.  In the last half of the program, we talked about the New Horizons Pluto mission as Alan is the P.I. for the mission.  As you will hear, the spacecraft is doing well and on its way to Pluto.  Alan was asked about the actual New Horizons Pluto mission and then what happens to the spacecraft after the Pluto mission is finished.  He said it would continue on into deep space, leave our solar system and become an interstellar mission much in the way of Voyager.  He also said it had power on board for perhaps 25-30 more years and that it would study objects in the Kuiper Belt which it would transit.  A listener asked him about the possible need to change course for New Horizons due to debris. Alan talked about this problem and the contingency plans to put New Horizons on a different approach to Pluto if necessary.  We also learned that the New Horizons team started a petition drive at Change.org to have the U.S. Post Office issue a Pluto stamp for the mission. I signed the petition, perhaps you will want to do so as well.  You can read about it on Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log and he has a link in the article that will take you to the petition ;  http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/01/10284883-petition-pushes-for-a-pluto-stamp.  There were 4,000 signatures for the Pluto stamp at the time of my archiving this program.

If you have questions or comments about this program, please post them on The Space Show blog. If you need additional information on the conference, use the contact information from their website.