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NASA Space Technology

NASA Offering Free Zero Gravity Flights 52

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the compete-for-the-vomit-comet dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that NASA is offering free zero-g flight time for anyone with a viable proposal for emerging space technologies. While NASA will provide the flight time, approved projects will be responsible for all other expenses. "NASA's Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training, or FAST, program helps emerging technologies mature through testing in a reduced gravity environment. To prepare technologies for space applications, it is important to demonstrate they work in a zero-gravity environment. This unique testing environment can be provided in an aircraft flying repeated parabolic trajectories which create brief periods of zero gravity. The aircraft also can simulate reduced-gravity levels similar to those found on the surface of the moon or Mars."
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NASA Offering Free Zero Gravity Flights

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  • Re:Fights? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @07:35AM (#26676153) Homepage Journal

    This unique testing environment can be provided in an aircraft flying repeated parabolic trajectories which create brief periods of zero gravity.

    Speaking of mental images, I cracked up imagining them trying to choreograph a fight sequence in such a parabolic flight: What happens as gravity returns and they are still floating in the air?

    Exactly the same thing as when gravity is there all the time.

  • Re:"Zero gravity" (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrfrostee (30198) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:16AM (#26676435) Homepage

    "Microgravity" is the correct term for the background acceleration levels present on the International Space Station, and is commonly used by researchers who care about the exact levels of disturbance on their experiments (even researchers on the Vomit Comet).

    Gravity gradients and small disturbances (hard drive motors, astronauts bumping the walls, etc.) make the broad spectrum acceleration noise floor on the ISS about 10 micro-Gs. Peaks caused by refrigerator pumps, maneuvering jets, Soyuz and Shuttle dockings, etc. are much higher.

    More information is at NASA Principal Investigator Microgravity Services: http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov/MSD/MSD_htmls/pims_products.html [nasa.gov]

  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:23AM (#26676455)

    Sex in low gravity. Giggity giggity.

    It's been done [space.com].

  • by gmueckl (950314) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:51AM (#26676543)

    We are participating in one of ESA's scientific parbolic flight campaigns and I therefore had the chance to get some insight about the costs involved. The participation fee alone is about 60.000 Euros and more than twice the costs we had for building the experiments. For this we get 90 parabolas with 20 seconds of microgravity for experimenting.

    Assuming that the cost structure for NASA's campaign participants is similar, NASA's offer to let these teams participate for free seems to be quite generous. Is there anyone here with more details?

  • Is this real new? (Score:3, Informative)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:21AM (#26676653) Journal
    I'm pretty sure that the late CMU CS Professor, Randy Pausch [cmu.edu], talked about doing one of these proposals in the vomit comet during this last lecture,...
  • Re:Einstein called.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by mrsquid0 (1335303) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:26AM (#26676669) Homepage

    More precisely, Einstein's General Theory of Relativity postulates that a uniform gravitational field is equivalent to a uniform acceleration. They are not the same thing, they are just indistinguishable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:58AM (#26676791)

    Did you know that this is how Apollo 13 was filmed?
    They built the CM/LEM sets inside a "Vomit Comet" and ensured that no shot was over 30 seconds long.

  • Re:Fights? (Score:4, Informative)

    by feyhunde (700477) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @03:16PM (#26679015)
    I was extremely lucky to be involved in the NASA SOAR program the last year the KC-135 was used. (Now it's a DC-9) SOAR is the free program for undergraduate research to be involved with Microgravity experiments. Something like 32 student groups a year get to use it in 2 week periods. NASA is also good at about getting multiple schools involved. Everyone from MIT to WVU and Oregon State is involved. Back to the topic. What happens isn't a sharp fall, it takes a small amount of time to pull out of it, so you don't quite fall normally. And then once you get up to 1G you then go up to 2G in a short time. The first and last sets of parabolas are also a different type designed to replicate Lunar and Martian gravity.

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

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