Mike, Bill, and I attended the LCANS conference last week.
One thing I got from LCANS is the concern over work force development. We're not graduating enough engineers and near space is looked at as one way to develop the work force. A lot of our experiments are looked at as toy science. So we need to sell our amateur programs as a means to get students interested in math, science, and engineering rather than doing real science.
The university space grants now have to account for every dollar they spend and how many people that money reaches. We'll get bigger exposure if we can may our launches web based or get a lot of students involved. If our launches can reach a lot of students, we can apply for space grant funding. If they don't reach a lot, we'll have to look for funding from other sources. I'd like to look at grants for small amounts of money, places like Target or Walmart that have helped schools before.
There's a pent up demand for launches that are tens to hundreds of pounds. NASA's balloon office (CSBF) is filling the need for the big heavy stuff (observatory class missions) but nothing is really doing the smaller stuff. One solution is for multiple experiments to share a balloon lift. But that's not something we can help with. Where I think ARHAB could help out with testing individuals sensors or circuits, rather than entire payloads. That may be of interest to researchers if we let them know we can launch a test for them. It's not that we'd be certifying an experiment, rather that we'd be showing that the sensor is worth pursuing in bigger payloads because it produced something useful on one of our flights.
So anyhow, those are my thoughts.