The NASA payload, the Suborbital Flight Environment Monitor (SFEM),awaits installation and integration with the nose cone of UP Aerospace' SL-6 rocket. (NASA photo)
UP Aerospace' SL-6 rocket soars aloft from a Spaceport America launch pad in New Mexico carrying small DoD and NASA payloads. (Contributed) A rocket launched by one of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program suborbital launch providers, UP Aerospace of Denver, Colo., reached 385,000 feet altitude, or 73 miles high, during a flight that carried a small NASA payload April 5 at New Mexico's Spaceport America.
UP Aerospace' SpaceLoft 6 (SL-6) launch was a mission by the Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS) of the Department of Defense, which had extra space available in the nose conesection of the vehicle for the NASA-developed payload, the Suborbital Flight Environment Monitor (SFEM). This enabled a risk reduction opportunity in preparation for the upcoming SpaceLoft-7 NASA mission in August 2012. The SFEM is being flown on many of the Flight Opportunities Program participating providers' launch vehicles to study atmospheric conditions such as temperature that the payloads encounter in a suborbital environment.
Technology validation flights help reduce risks associated with emerging technologies and procedures for future space missions by demonstrating their application in a relevant environment.
UP Aerospace' SL-6 launch was its 10th from Spaceport America, and reached a record altitude for launches from the New Mexico facility.
Read more on the preparations for the SpaceLoft 6 flight with the SFEM payload.
In a related development, NASA's Flight Opportunities Program released its fourth Announcement of Flight Opportunities (AF04) request for proposals April 4. Responses from potential participants are due May 11 at 5:30 p.m. EDT. Notification of selectees is targeted for July 2012. More information is available at http://flightopportunities.nasa.gov.
Payloads are selected for the crosscutting technologies that advance multiple future space missions toward flight readiness status. Although NASA does not provide funding for the payloads themselves, it provides funds for the launch of these payloads to enable the payload developers to have access to NASA's contracted launch providers.
Learn more about NASA's Flight Opportunities Program.
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