Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Sunday, September 27, 2015

St. Louis Space Frontier Hosts Second Annual Gateway to Space Development Conference

By Carmelo Turdo St. Louis Space Frontier, a chapter of the National Space Society, held the second annual Gateway to Space Development Conference at the James S. McDonnell Prologue Room at Boeing St. Louis on Saturday.  The conference focused on commercial space applications, and included a series of speakers relating their first-hand experiences with commercial space projects.  In between the scheduled presentations, attendees toured the James S. McDonnell Prologue Room, a museum dedicated to telling the story of the McDonnell Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing contributions to the aerospace industry.  Other local organizations, including the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, The Space Museum at Bonne Terre and Missouri Aviation Historical Society, brought exhibits that were well-received by conference attendees.

James S. McDonnell Prologue Room entrance

Zach Kromer shows his photos in the lobby during registration

Military Aircraft exhibit

Closer look at large F-15E model

Commercial Aircraft exhibit

Curator Mike Burke with Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum
exhibit on display

Curator Mike Burke discusses an item in the museum's exhibit

Mercury Engineering Development Fixture on display

Gemini Engineering Development Fixture on display

New Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft model

Jim Merriman from The Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO
with the museum's exhibit on display

Myron Lane from the Missouri Aviation Historical Society with their
exhibit on display

A series of speakers were invited to share their direct experiences with commercial space application and encourage further effort to making space commerce an economical choice for more industries.  The first presenter, Dr. Henry Brownlee, Communications Manager with Boeing Corporate Communications who directs the activities of the Prologue Room among other responsibilities, gave an historical perspective on the development of the U.S. manned space program.  Dr. Brownlee traced his history of the American space program to the founding of McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in 1939, the same year as the beginning of World War II.  The development of jets and rockets progressed through the war years and gave birth to the space age that dawned with the adoption of military ballistic missiles for launching spacecraft beginning with the Russian Sputnik satellite in 1957.  McDonnell Aircraft Corporation went on to build the first U.S. manned spacecraft, Mercury and Gemini, and participated in Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs as part of McDonnell Douglas.  Currently, Boeing is producing the CST-100 Starliner for testing as the next proposed U.S. manned spacecraft. 

Dr. Henry Brownlee speaks on the U.S. manned
space program
The next speaker added more historical perspective to McDonnell Douglas' role in the U.S. manned space program.  Dean Purdy, an electrical engineer who worked on the Mercury, Gemini and other McDonnell and McDonnell Douglas space vehicles, discussed the Electrophoresis Operations in Space (EOS) project that flew aboard the Space Shuttle in the early 1980s.  McDonnell Douglas pioneered commercial applications in space with this effort to process pharmaceutical proteins in microgravity in the Shuttle mid-deck area with later plans for a production module to be flown in the Shuttle cargo bay (which never actually flew).  The EOS program included the launch of the first industrial payload specialist astronaut, McDonnell Douglas engineer Charles Walker, on three missions.  The program was cancelled following the suspension of Space Shuttle flights following the Challenger accident.
Dean Purdy discusses EOS program details
Moving from McDonnell Douglas programs of the 1960s-1980s to the present, the next presenters introduced the current Boeing manned spacecraft program, CST-100 Starliner.  Sheryl Kelley, head of marketing for Commercial Space Transportation programs for Boeing and Joel Allen, member of the Space Vehicles Training Program team at Boeing, provided very informative briefings on the current systems approach to the next phase of U.S. manned spaceflight that will directly affect current and future commercial space efforts.  The program is slated to launch a manned certification flight in 2017.

Sheryl Kelley presents the CST-100 spacecraft launch cycle

Joel Allen discusses the crew training for the CST-100 program


Two lesser-known commercial space programs were introduced by the next speakers.  Maggie Duckworth, a top 100 finalist in the privately-funded Mars One astronaut program, introduced the effort of this non-profit group to develop a mars settlement and send 4-person crews to live there permanently by the mid 2020's.   Crew selection and an 8-year training program would be in process while the unmanned missions deliver the habitable settlement infrastructure.  According to Mars One, the effort will use current technology to accomplish the first wave of settlements.  Another commercial space business, BioSpace Experiments, provides hardware and support services for microgravity minilab research aboard the international Space Station (ISS).  Ron Jones, Marketing Director for BioSpace Experiments, described the process for developing and launching research projects into space and gave examples of how students and STEM program participants have been successful.  Ron Jones has decades of experience in space system engineering at the nation's top aerospace companies, and was the principle developer of the Integrated Space plan that is the industry's most significant marketing tool.

Michael Snyder, Co-Founder of Made In Space
A practical supporting element of the commercial use of space was the topic of the final presentation.  Michael Snyder, Co-Founder and Chief Engineer at Made in Space, told the story of the development of 3D printing in microgravity.   Development of 3D printing by Made In Space was proven on parabolic flights generating brief episodes of weightlessness and then in tests on the ISS.  Most notably, parts for a ratchet tool were produced on the ISS through 3D printing.  This revolutionary process will be developed to produce items using metal alloys and other materials in the future, supplementing and possibly replacing the need to transport supplies to space in the future.  

During the conference, two special awards to were given to recognize significant contributions to aerospace education:

Anna Green accepts her award
Tasmyn Front accepts for the
Challenger Learning Center


Special thanks to the St. Louis Space Frontier, the conference committee, guest speakers, and Boeing St. Louis for producing a great event and for their hospitality. 

No comments: