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NASA Space Technology

NASA Offering Free Zero Gravity Flights 52

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:"Zero gravity" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @07:33AM (#26676149)

    Isn't microgravity what makes people participate in American Idol?

    Snideness aside, you know that things need a catchy term. "Zero Gravity", while not technically correct (because there IS gravity and if the plane wasn't there you'd notice it as soon as the contact with the object exhibiting this gravity effect on the object that is you (the former object being the planet Earth) is reestablished, people understand what is meant when "zero gravity" is mentioned. Basically the "zero gravity" experienced in space flights is not really zero gravity either, it's just that the gravity of the planet you circle around is in balance with the velocity of the space craft. Essentially, you're falling around the planet.

    But do you want to write such a paragraph every time you want to explain the phenomenon? Because it ain't really "freefall" either.

  • Re:"Zero gravity" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:25AM (#26676465)

    In orbit, the preferred term is "microgravity". Manned space flights are notoriously prone to bursts of acceleration, but no spacecraft is acceleration free, and they all tend to vibrate a lot (causing acceleration to the pieces, if not the whole).

    Basically, every panel, every antenna, every boom, has one or more resonance frequencies. Every time something shakes the spacecraft (such as going from dark to sunlight, or vice-versa, or a thruster burst, or a piece of equipment being moved), every one of those spacecraft components will be excited somewhat, and each will vibrate at its resonance frequency, maybe for weeks. These motions can be clearly seen in RF carrier phase from spacecraft; and for most spacecraft they are always present (shaking occurs more frequently than their damping time). Theis has to be considered anytime you have an experiment that does require micro-gravity.

  • Re:Einstein called.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Creator ( 4611 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @02:53PM (#26678835) Homepage Journal

    But if the observer cannot know the difference, then under relativity, how can you claim that there is a difference?

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller