Physics professor sited as expert in Orlando Sentinel

From Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel.

By the time Challenger exploded in 1986, it was painfully obvious the shuttle could not provide the routine access to space that we were promised. But because of the huge investment and lack of alternatives, we were locked into a lemon. The space station was designed in the same flawed manner, a monolith in search of a mission.

There is a better way.

To explain, let me introduce Joshua Colwell, a professor of physics at University of Central Florida. Colwell is trying to figure out how dust managed to stick together in the early solar system and form planets. In other words, how did our Earth go from being a dust bunny to our home?

Colwell’s research involves creating very low-speed collisions with dust. This requires zero gravity. The experiments last less than a minute, so he doesn’t need to take a $1.5 billion shuttle flight to the $100 billion space station to do them.

Instead, Colwell will be flying his experiments on the New Shepard, a spaceship being built by Blue Origin. Established by founder Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin is one of many fledgling commercial space carriers looking to break the government monopoly on space.

New Shepard will take Colwell’s experiment on a suborbital flight. This will provide a few minutes of zero gravity, more than enough for dust collisions.

Read the entire article here.

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