NASA Selects Technology Payloads For Reduced-Gravity Flights

SuperMod launch. (Credit: Armadillo Aerospace)

NASA PR — WASHINGTON — NASA has selected nine proposals to demonstrate new technologies for the second set of payloads to fly on commercial suborbital reusable launch vehicles and the Zero-G commercial parabolic aircraft. NASA is using commercially available vehicles to carry these technology demonstration payloads to help develop the U.S. commercial reusable suborbital transportation industry.

NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program provides test flights to demonstrate and validate space technologies on airborne platforms flying above 65,000 feet, the area known as “near space.” The program also supports parabolic flights that simulate brief periods of microgravity or weightlessness.

“We’re moving out with a set of payloads that can benefit from the proving ground of near space,” Mike Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington said. “We’re looking forward to increasing the number of commercial flights and technology demonstration payloads flown, with companies providing a viable reusable flying science lab capability for researchers from all across America.”

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X PRIZE Raises $210,000 as James Cameron and Fellow Millionaires Go ZERO-G

Avatar Director/Producer James Cameron floats weightless in Zero G along with X PRIZE Trustees in a flight to raise funds for the X PRIZE Foundation. Left to right: Rob McEwen (Chairman, US Gold), James Cameron, Peter H. Diamandis (Chairman/CEO, X PRIZE), Elon Musk (Chairman/CEO, SpaceX), Jim Gianopulos (Chairman/CEO, Fox Filmed Entertainment). Photo credit: Steve Boxall

James Cameron and Friends Soar Weightless in the Avatar Zero-G Experience to Support The X PRIZE Foundation
X PRIZE Foundation Press Release

This special flight assembled a group of 30 individuals who are passionate about the science and technology represented in AVATAR and mission and innovation of the X PRIZE Foundation. Three spots were reserved for the winners of an eBay auction, in which the general public went head-to-head in a bidding war to snag a coveted seat aboard the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. An additional 20 seats were sold for $15,000 each. The weightless experience took place aboard G-FORCE ONE, a specially modified, FAA-approved, Boeing 727-200 aircraft which departed from Van Nuys Airport. The flight, identical to those used by NASA to train its astronauts, provided guests the chance to fly like Superman and flip like an Olympic gymnast, as ZERO-G creates Martian (1/3-gravity), Lunar (1/6-gravity) and zero gravity conditions over the course of 15 parabolic arcs.

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Musk, Venter, Cameron and Diamandis on X PRIZE Microgravity Flight

Participants experience microgravity aboard a Zero-G Corporation parabolic flight. (PRNewsFoto/Zero Gravity Corporation, Al Powers)

X Prize Founder Peter Diamandis just Tweeted:

“Flying into Zero G today with James Cameron, Jim Gianopulos, Craig Venter, Elon Musk and a number of X PRIZE trustees and donors!”

Cameron, of course, is the director of “Avatar.” Elon Musk is founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla Motors. Craig Venter is a venture capitalist and biologist best known for his pioneering work in sequencing the human genome and creating the first cell with a synthetic genome earlier. And Jim Gianopulos is co-chairman-CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment.

Last month, X Prize auctioned off three seats aboard a ZERO-G microgravity flight with Cameron on eBay for $30,000 as a fundraiser. The bidders were anonymous, and Diamandis promised there would be “alot of amazing VIPs on this flight.” So, it’s not clear exactly who paid for the tickets.

Cheers: Astronauts4Hire to Sample First Space Beers

ASTRONAUTS4HIRE PRESS RELEASE

Astronauts4Hire’s inaugural mission as a contracted flight researcher will be testing the world’s first beer to be certified for drinking in space. The beer, produced as a joint venture between Saber Astronautics Australia and the 4-Pines Brewing Company (under the name Vostok Pty Ltd), is a recipe designed for easy drinking in both in microgravity and on Earth. It is intended to meet anticipated demand from the nascent space tourism market. (more…)

James Cameron to Fly on Zero-G Plane in X PRIZE Benefit

X PRIZE FOUNDATION

Helping to raise funds for the X PRIZE Foundation (www.xprize.org), “Avatar” Producer/Director, James Cameron, will participate as the honored guest aboard an extraordinary ZERO-G Experience taking off from Van Nuys Airport (VNY) in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, October 9, 2010. Additional X PRIZE Board Members and special guests have purchased seats to participate in this special event. Three available seats for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure will be auctioned on eBay to the general public beginning Tuesday, August 31, 2010 and ending Friday, September 3, 2010. To find out more information about the auction and to bid on seats, visit http://eBay.com/cameron.

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ZERO G Disputes Critical Inspector General’s Report

Participants experience microgravity aboard a Zero-G Corporation parabolic flight. (PRNewsFoto/Zero Gravity Corporation, Al Powers)


ZERO-G PRESS RELEASE

On June 18, 2010, the Office of Inspector General released an Audit Report of NASA’s Microgravity Flight Services as provided by Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G). The report’s principal recommendation was that NASA should restructure ZERO-G’s current contract. ZERO-G would welcome the opportunity for the restructure in terms of addressing the appropriate measure of parabola quality and to assure NASA’s continued access to microgravity flight services from ZERO-G.

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NASA OIG: ZERO G Provides NASA With “Inconsistent” Levels of Microgravity Flight Services

Participants experience microgravity aboard a Zero-G Corporation parabolic flight. (PRNewsFoto/Zero Gravity Corporation, Al Powers)

NASA’s Office of the Inspector General has released a report saying that ZERO-G Corporation has “provided inconsistent quality levels of microgravity flight services since it began providing NASA with reduced gravity flights in August 2008.” The space agency’s watchdog also criticized the terms of ZERO G’s contract, NASA’s lack of a backup plan, and poor financial controls that resulted in a small overpayment.

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ZERO-G Heads for Beantown

Participants experience microgravity aboard a Zero-G Corporation parabolic flight. (PRNewsFoto/Zero Gravity Corporation, Al Powers)


ZERO-G PRESS RELEASE

On June 26, Zero Gravity Corporation’s (ZERO-G), G-FORCE ONE will take off from Logan airport offering flyers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to defy the law of gravity. Flyers will have the unique opportunity to float freely in complete weightlessness onboard ZERO-G’s weightless flight. ZERO-G is the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights.

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Teacher Applications Open for Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights

Participants experience microgravity aboard a Zero-G Corporation parabolic flight. (PRNewsFoto/Zero Gravity Corporation, Al Powers)

NORTHROP GRUMMAN PRESS RELEASE

The Northrop Grumman Corporation Foundation is accepting teacher applications for the Weightless Flights of Discovery program taking place in Gulfport, Miss. on Sept. 20, 2010. A maximum of 30 teachers will be chosen to participate in the unique initiative that places teachers on micro-gravity flights to test Newton’s Laws of Motion and energize students in the formative middle-school years.

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ZERO-G Introduces Platinum Service, Raises Price by $1,850

ZERO-G: Now with 40 percent more room at 37 percent higher prices. (PRNewsFoto/Zero Gravity Corporation, Al Powers)

ZERO-G will introduce a new Platinum service next week for its microgravity flights, which adds two extra parabolic loops and 40 percent more space for passengers to float around it. The new service also comes with a hefty price tag: $6,800 per person plus tax, a 37.37 percent increase from the $4,950 base rate charged for the standard package.

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ZERO-G to Fly Out of Las Vegas on Feb. 27

ZERO-G PRESS RELEASE

On February 27, Zero Gravity Corporation’s (ZERO-G), G-FORCE ONE will take off from LAS Airport offering fliers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to defy the laws of gravity.  Guests will have the unique opportunity to float freely in complete weightlessness during ZERO-G’s weightless flight.  ZERO-G is the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights.

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ZERO-G to Fly Out of LA Next Month

ZERO-G PRESS RELEASE

On February 13, Zero Gravity Corporation’s (ZERO-G), G-FORCE ONE will blast off from VNY [Van Nuys] airport offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to defy the law of gravity. Guests will have the unique opportunity to float freely and lighten up in complete weightlessness onboard ZERO-G’s weightless flight. ZERO-G is the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights.

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ZERO G “Slashes” Prices for Halloween Flight

Google Co-founder and billionaut-to-be Sergey Brin (center, full head of hair) floats in microgravity.
Google Co-founder and billionaut-to-be Sergey Brin (center, full head of hair) floats in microgravity.

Got nothing else to do on Halloween? Planning to be in the Miami area? Have thousands of dollars in spare change sitting around in your sock drawer?

If so, ZERO G has a deal for you.

To mark its fifth anniversary, the company is “slashing” (get it?) its regularly priced tickets for the October 31 flight out of Fort Lauderdale. How much, you ask? The press release doesn’t say. But, the current price is $4,995 per person plus 5 percent sales tax. Five years ago, a flight cost a mere $2,995, so I’m guessing the discount is somewhere between those two numbers.

Want to know more? Call 703.894.2188 or visit www.gozerog.com. Use the promo code 5YEAR.