Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Lieutenant's Experiment Flies on Shuttle

Vandenberg AFB Media Advisory

2008 March 21

VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. - The crew of the STS-123 Endeavour Space Shuttle is traveling with a unique payload that was designed by a lieutenant here.

1st Lt. Anna Gunn-Golkin, a 1st Air and Space Test Squadron launch systems engineer, was part of a nine-person team that worked on Rigidizable Inflatable Get-Away-Special Experiment (RIGEX) project as part of their master's thesis at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

RIGEX is designed to test and collect data on inflatable and rigidizable structures in space. Current satellites and their accompanying antennas are often limited in size due to limited launch vehicle dimensions. Success of this technology would help alleviate some of the size limitations for future space missions.

"The project will allow us to carry more with less," said Lieutenant Gunn-Golkin. "A rocket like the Minotaur IV, which in the scheme of things is small, would be able to carry much more for a percentage of today's price."

The Endeavour crew will be testing the RIGEX project for the duration of the flight. Upon the shuttles landing on March 27 the data will be studied by members of the space community to further explore the RIGEX project.

This story was originally titled "VAFB Lieutenant's Experiment to be Tested on Space Shuttle".

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