001.Parabolic flights

GS-PA-STATUS Model (1)

Airplanes have been used since 1973 to provide a nearly weightless environment in which to train astronauts, conduct research, and film motion pictures. Such aircraft are commonly referred by the nickname Vomit Comet . To create a weightless environment, the airplane flies in a six-mile long parabolic  arc, first climbing, then entering a powered dive. During the arc, the propulsion and steering of the aircraft are controlled such that the drag  (air resistance) on the plane is canceled out, leaving the plane to behave as it would if it were free-falling in a vacuum. During this period, the plane’s occupants experience about 25 seconds of weightlessness, before experiencing about 25 seconds of 2 g acceleration (twice their normal weight) during the pull-out from the parabola. A typical flight lasts around two hours, during which 40 parabolas are flown. Parabolic flights offer advantages unique to this platform
- Tests of systems in preparation for long-duration Space missions
- Biomedical research experiments on human test subjects in weightlessness
- Ideal environment for new experiments
- Tests of experiments in critical design phases
- Low cost of design and production of an experiment
- Possibility to carry out several series of experiments during three consecutive days
- Possibility to use standard laboratory equipment
- Researchers interact directly on their experiment during flight