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NASA Offering Free Zero Gravity Flights

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the compete-for-the-vomit-comet dept.

NASA 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 Experimentation (-1, Troll)

Light and Truth (1444615) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676091)

Many recent developments in space travel (from nongovernment monies) are inclusive of experiments in thought process control. Nine out of ten or more of space based experiments involve high dosages of radiation (magnetic and sub-light frequencies). Under conditions of microgravity the human brain is unable to provide natural resistance (defense mechanism) to neural pathway control as shown in documents revealed by NASA: Human Space Flight Experiment Test Battery Program. This program's output (research) was not permitted to the public under the Bush/Clinton/Reagan administration until as late as 2007 when requests made under Freedom of Information Act (Title 5 US Code Section 552) led to public discovery.

Fights? (5, Funny)

HetMes (1074585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676097)

Immediately, Chinese action movie images went through my head. But alas, no Crouching Tiger in space just yet. Would be cool, though, Zero-G Fights.

Re:Fights? (2, Funny)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676113)

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?

Re:Fights? (5, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676153)

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:Fights? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26678167)

Better actually--the thing with parabolic flight is--they start climbing again. Not just regular gravity--but multiple times normal gravity!

Re:Fights? (3, Informative)

feyhunde (700477) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Fights? (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676355)

They look like they were in a slow motion while you wait for the combatants drift close enough to hit each other again.

Slashdot emerging technology (2, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676099)

I would like to take a slashdot troll up and see what the effect of zero-G is on said troll with a view to simulating any nausea and vomiting right here on the ground upon the user hitting the submit button. All I'll need is myself, a troll, a barf bag and a stick to whack the troll with.

There. Do I get my free zero-G flight now?

Well, nothing much happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26676339)

As both a slashdot troll (I was posting disguised goatse links back when it was new), and an aerobatic pilot, I can tell you not much will happen. No barf bag will be requried.

There. I just saved the american taxpayers untold millions.

Re:Well, nothing much happens (3, Funny)

cyberworm (710231) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676571)

In your view the OP's experiment isn't complete until he gets to whack you with a stick. That should be worth a few million.

"Zero gravity" (3, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676107)

I wish people would stop referring to this as zero gravity, which is a totally ridiculous name for it. As is the name "microgravity" I've seen used. Let's call it what it is: freefall.

Re:"Zero gravity" (1)

doyoulikegoatseeee (930088) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676127)

fuck nasa

Re:"Zero gravity" (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Einstein called.. (0)

The Creator (4611) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676369)

He said that acceleration==gravity* and that you are talking out of your ass.

*) And hence a free falling body experienses zero gravity!

Re:Einstein called.. (2, Informative)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676669)

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.

Re:Einstein called.. (2, Interesting)

The Creator (4611) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678835)

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

Re:"Zero gravity" (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676391)

Snideness aside, you know that things need a catchy term.

The plane in question is called the "vomit comet", catchy enough for NASA [what-is-what.com] ?

Re:"Zero gravity" (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:"Zero gravity" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26676329)

excellent comment.
The zero gravity rubbish is used far too widely.
It is just freefall.

Re:"Zero gravity" (3, Informative)

mrfrostee (30198) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676435)

"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]

Re:"Zero gravity" (1)

oneofthose (1309131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678291)

It depends on how you look at it really. If you look at the planet, the plane falling into it and the person inside the plane falling with it there is certainly gravity. However if you only look at the plane and the person inside it there is no gravity affecting the person. The forces affecting the person relative to the plane are almost zero.
Or similarly take a truck that carries cars on it. The truck is driving a certain velocity and so are the cars parked on the truck. However if you take the truck as your reference system the cars parked on the truck have no velocity relative to the truck. They are parked.
This is actually an important principle of physics. It also explains why you can drive a car onto a truck going 40mph (like Knight Rider does it) without crashing into the truck.

Re:"Zero gravity" (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26681167)

This concept seems to be hit or miss for people. Either you get it, or you struggle with it.

I think it's a brain wiring trait.

Re:"Zero gravity" (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719365)

However if you only look at the plane and the person inside it there is no gravity affecting the person.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in space astronaut's faces get puffy [cnn.com] because there is no gravity that the blood flow has to fight like on Earth. But in this scenario, gravity is pulling you down and is thus still working against that blood flow out of the heart. You might not be falling in relation to the plane, but you are still falling and so the sensation is not quite the same. Or have I missed something?

Re:"Zero gravity" (1)

oneofthose (1309131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26731427)

No, I believe there it no difference between you being weightless inside the plane and your blood being weightless inside of you.

Re:"Zero gravity" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26682151)

I wish people would stop referring to this as zero gravity, which is a totally ridiculous name for it. As is the name "microgravity" I've seen used. Let's call it what it is: freefall.

hense the name "microgravity", moron.

Proposal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26676111)

Congress is full of hot air, as we know. First, we get all that hot air, and add it to a hot air balloon. We'll get to the upper part of the atmosphere, and from there, we will send a rocket to the Sun. A slow, steady rocket, with all our top scientists on board. Why out top scientists? One of a few things will happen.

1. The scientists will figure out a way to create a new era of space travel, and we'll remotely control the rocket to turn around and come back to Earth.

2. The scientists will crash into the Sun, and discover it isn't truly hot, thus we'll be able to colonize a new "planet". We'll unplutotize the Sun!!

3. The scientists will crash into the Sun, and all the remaining smart people on Earth will have to get busy breeding in order to replace those people who sadly will have died.

New toilet for the ISS? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676137)

Didn't the toilet on the ISS break down a while back? Maybe NASA would be interested in a more reliable model.

I'm sure a lot of folks would be able to rig up a prototype with parts available from their local building supply store.

Did "Make" magazine have a "Build Your Own Zero Gravity Toilet (ZGT)" article yet?

Or just install the ZGT in your house to impress your guests, when they read the sign on the door of your bathroom stating:

"Attention! Zero Gravity Toilet! Read these instructions carefully!"

Re:New toilet for the ISS? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676181)

"Attention! Zero Gravity Toilet! Read these instructions carefully!"

Its easier when you are half way to the moon (and the only passenger). Reading the instructions and using the toilet might be difficult on a parabolic hop.

I'll do an experiment in the name of everyone on / (-1, Troll)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676247)

Sex in low gravity. Giggity giggity.

Re:I'll do an experiment in the name of everyone o (2, Informative)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676455)

Sex in low gravity. Giggity giggity.

It's been done [space.com] .

Re:I'll do an experiment in the name of everyone o (2, Funny)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677665)

Never hurts to repeat research

Re:I'll do an experiment in the name of everyone o (1)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 5 years ago | (#26679841)

Oh yeah? Get ready for this... a zero-gravity threesome!

I will boldly go where no man has gone before [in zero-gravity]. I'll just be needing two super-hot female research assistants...

Re:I'll do an experiment in the name of everyone o (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26681181)

<4chan>
Torrent or GTFO. ...Please?
</4chan>

Re:I'll do an experiment in the name of everyone o (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26690979)

I'm not sure you understand what a troll is.

In fact, I'm pretty sure you have no clue.

Zero G? Did this today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26676301)

Today being the weekend, I had a little fun in a small plane. You don't need a giant aircraft, even a little 2 seater can fly parabolas and experience a few seconds of zero gravity.

Drive to your local airfield, buy a pilot a drink and ask nicely. You'll probably get to experience it as well. Most of us just want any excuse to fly.

Re:Zero G? Did this today (1)

ConanG (699649) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676427)

I think you might want to get him liquored up after the flight.

Will they also swallow the cost... (3, Funny)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676337)

...of fitting proper lighting to the plane and painting the inside of the hull green so I can shoot some "proper" space footage in there and CGI the backgrounds in at a later date?

Re:Will they also swallow the cost... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

It is a really bad sign... (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676407)

It's a bad sign for the space program that they aren't offering money. :^(

Quite a generous offer (5, Informative)

gmueckl (950314) | more than 5 years ago | (#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? (2, Informative)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676653)

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,...

MEMEME I got a project! (1)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676693)

I want to see what happens if Chuck Norris roundhouse-kicks the flight from the inside. In theory it should propel the aircraft away from Chuck, but since he is inside the aircraft it will hit him in the back of the head. Perhaps we can get this whole "unstoppable force meets the immovable object"-discourse put to rest.

Oh, and it has to be done in microgravity because it'd be intrinsically cooler.

Reproduction in Space (2, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26676753)

I can just see it now.

In front of a NASA officials desk sits a well dressed man smoking a cigar pitching his project to the official who has an uneasy look on his face.

We hears that you guys here at the NASA have a problem involving the uh, reporduction, in space. Here's what we're gonna do for you.
As you can see, Debbie and Frank back there ain't wearin much. In fact, all they're wearin is our new uh, prototype. It is this, prototype, that will allow Debbie and Frank back there to, reproduce, in space.
We have the crew, all of the required equipment, and our own camera men to uh, document, our product and the techniques involved in the products use.
All we need from you here at the NASA, is the zero gravity.

Meanwhile a man and a woman are standing in the back of the NASA officials office wearing nothing but leather strap outfits, he has a chain attached to a leather collar on his neck and she is holding the other end.

Hey Frank, do you think they'll go for it ?

I sure hope so Deb, it would be the first time I was ever encouraged to get to the money shot as quickly as possible.

Re:Reproduction in Space (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677847)

ah, Debbie Does Houston

Re:Reproduction in Space (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26677927)

Because Debbie Does Apollo 9 would be tabboo.

Re:Reproduction in Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26684533)

snake on a shuttle...

Plummeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677223)

I don't need nasa. Just a cessna and a flat spin. Plummeting is remarkably cheap.

Re:Plummeting (2, Funny)

insane_machine (952012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26678129)

In this case you are not paying for the plummet, as you said it's cheap (go jump off a bridge) you are paying for the not die at the end of the plummet.

Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26677617)

as in beer or as in vomit?

Giggle-o-meter reading in 0g (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26679391)

Everybody else step to the rear! I need to determine just how many giggles I can emit in 30 seconds, and I believe the world needs to know this as well.

Free fly (1)

gluliverk (1398195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683435)

I can fly for free? Can I take my cat with me ? =)
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