Long Spaceflights Affect Astronaut Brain Volume

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko marked their 300th consecutive day aboard the International Space Station on Jan. 21, 2016. The pair will land March 1 after spending a total of 340 days in space. (Credits: NASA)

New study looks at changes affecting vision and the intracranial compartment

HOUSTON (Radiological Society of North America PR) —  Extended periods in space have long been known to cause vision problems in astronauts. Now a new study in Radiology suggests that the impact of long-duration space travel is more far-reaching, potentially causing brain volume changes and pituitary gland deformation.


Competition for Teachers to Host Weightless Science Class with Zero-G Corporation

G-FORCE ONE (Credit: Zero-G Corporation)

ARLINGTON, Va. (Zero-G PR) — How do you get (and keep) your students’ attention during a lesson? By testing the limits of gravity with a ride in the nation’s only weightless laboratory! Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) has announced plans for Mission: Microgravity, a nationwide competition for students and teachers of grades 8-12, that will award one educator with an out-of-this-world flight experience and a little extra classroom clout.


5 Hazards of Human Spaceflight

Credit: NASA

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A human journey to Mars, at first glance, offers an inexhaustible amount of complexities. To bring a mission to the Red Planet from fiction to fact, NASA’s Human Research Program has organized hazards astronauts will encounter on a continual basis into five classifications. Pooling the challenges into categories allows for an organized effort to overcome the obstacles that lay before such a mission. However, these hazards do not stand alone. They can feed off one another and exacerbate effects on the human body. These hazards are being studied using ground-based analogs, laboratories, and the International Space Station, which serves as a test bed to evaluate human performance and countermeasures required for the exploration of space.


Science Experiments, ISSpresso Headed for Space Station Aboard Dragon

NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano perform ultrasound eye imaging as part of the Fluid Shifts investigation during Expedition 37 on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano perform ultrasound eye imaging as part of the Fluid Shifts investigation during Expedition 37 on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — From improving LCD screens to testing espresso machines, a variety of research is headed to the International Space Station aboard the sixth SpaceX contracted resupply mission. The Dragon spacecraft will deliver research equipment for physical science, biology, biotechnology, human research and a myriad of technology demonstrations to the station. These new and ongoing investigations continue to assist researchers in pursuing scientific breakthroughs not possible on Earth.


Swiss Space Systems Launches the ZeroG Experience

PAVERNE, Switzerland, May 20th, 2014 (S3 PR) — In 2015, Swiss Space Systems (S3) will put the ZeroG experience within everyone’s reach. S3 is launching affordable zero gravity flights from more than 15 locations across the world including, for the first time ever, Asia, the Middle East and Central America.

ZeroG flights make it possible to experience true weightlessness, allowing bodies and materials to float free of the earth’s gravitational pull. The S3 parabolic flights are completely safe, and supervised by space professionals and a crew of qualified personnel. All flights last less than 2 hours, during which 15 parabolas are performed, each providing an experience of weightlessness for 20 to 25 seconds.


Virgin Galactic Customers Enjoy Early Taste of Microgravity

Joanne Le Bon in microgravity. (Credit: Steve Boxall)
Joanne Le Bon in microgravity. (Credit: Steve Boxall)

As part of its gathering of future spaceflight participants in Mojave on Sept. 25, Virgin Galactic also scheduled a series of space-related events and activities throughout the week for those coming in from the four corners of the globe. These included an after party at the Endeavour exhibit in Los Angeles, centrifuge training at NASTAR in Pennsylvania, tours of the Mount Wilson Observatory and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and microgravity parabolic rides aboard Zero Gravity Corporation’s G-FORCE ONE (above).

A press release from ZERO-G follows after the break.


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.

Video: First Zero Gravity Wedding in Asia

Here’s video of the first microgravity wedding in Japan held on Aug. 11 via my friend Misuzu Onuki, who helped plan the ceremony. The couple, who work for space companies, were aboard the Mitsubishi Diamond Air Service, which usually provides flights for microgravity experiments. The experiment here was in how to exchange rings in Zero G, which turned out to be quite a challenge.

“It is wonderful that a bride and a groom have the Zero G experience from the one G world together for their first time in their life for their wedding!” Misuzu wrote. “Wedding ceremonies in Japan are usually done very formally, silently and solemnly. However, a Zero G wedding is opposite with more active tension and drama.”

Study: Long Duration Astronauts Lose Significant Bone Strength


Astronauts spending months in space lose significant bone strength, making them increasingly at risk for fractures later in life.

UC Irvine and UC San Francisco led a study evaluating 13 astronauts who spent four to six months on the International Space Station and found that, on average, astronauts’ hipbone strength decreased 14 percent. Three astronauts experienced losses of 20 percent to 30 percent, rates comparable to those seen in older women with osteoporosis.


Heinlein Trust and SpaceX Launch Competition to Promote Zero G Research

Heinlein Prize Trust Press Release

The Heinlein Prize Trust announces the Microgravity Research Competition to reward innovation in the use of microgravity to advance biotech, nanotech, combustion, metallurgy, and other fields. Sponsored by the Trust and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the competition offers a $25,000 prize and transportation to and from Low Earth Orbit for the winning experiment aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.


NASA Uses Zero-G Plane for Experiments for First Time


NASA for the first time last week used microgravity research flights aboard commercially-owned aircraft to test hardware and technologies. These flights, on an airplane operated by the Zero Gravity Corporation, simulated the weightless conditions of space.

In addition to numerous NASA experiments, five companies sponsored by the agency’s Innovative Partnerships Program flew experiments aboard the reduced-gravity aircraft flights from Ellington Field in Houston. The flights were the first in NASA’s Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training program, called FAST.


Space Adventures Buys Zero-G

Space Adventures has consolidated its position in the space tourism market by acquiring a 100 percent stake in Zero-G, a company that provides micro-gravity aircraft flights. No price was disclosed.

“Bringing the companies together allows us to provide a range of exclusive commercial spaceflight services from parabolic flights to orbital missions,” said Zero-G CEO Peter Diamandis.

Diamandis, who also co-founded Space Adventures, remains as Zero-G’s chief executive and becomes a managing director of Space Adventures. Former NASA astronaut Byron Lichtenberg will stay as Zero-G’s chief technology officer.

Space Adventures was already a major investor in Zero-G. The Vienna, Virginia-based company provides tourism flights to the International Space Station and is planning similar missions around the moon. Zero-G is based in Florida and Las Vegas.

Space.com has more information. You can also read Space Adventures‘ press release.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Fiance Jennifer Siebel ‘Float on Air’ During ZERO-G Weightless Flight From Moffett Field

Zero Gravity Corporation Press Release

MOFFETT FIELD, CA–(Marketwire – February 18, 2008) – Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G®), the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights, welcomed San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and fiancé Jennifer Siebel to experience a weightless adventure aboard one of the first zero-gravity flights for the general public from NASA’s Moffett Federal Airfield on Saturday, February 16, 2008.

During the unforgettable weightless escapade, Newsom and Siebel flew like Superman, flipped like Olympic gymnasts and enjoyed 10-times more hang-time than the world’s best basketball player. The newly engaged duo floated on cloud nine as they danced mid-air in the rare and exalted state of weightlessness.


Provocateurs Praise Pathfinding Parabolic Procurement

Space Frontier Foundation Co-founders James Muncy and Bob Werb have praised a recent NASA-Zero Gravity Corp. deal as “a true hallelujah moment for the NewSpace industry” in a Space News op-ed piece.

NASA recently agreed to buy up to $25.4 million in commercial parabolic flight services from the private company. The space agency usually flies its own parabolic flights, which are used to train astronauts in a micro-gravity environment.

“This announcement is a strong positive signal to the NewSpace companies trying to develop Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) systems and other capabilities that NASA needs. Up until now, many of us could – and regularly did – say to NASA: ‘How can you expect industry to raise tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a service on the promise that NASA will buy, when it won’t even buy an existing commercial parabolic flight service from Zero Gravity Corp.?'” they wrote.

‘N Sync Member Fatone Takes Zero Gravity Flight

Former ‘N Sync member Joey Fatone celebrated his 31st birthday by taking a parabolic flight aboard a Zero-G plane. Fatone reportedly muched on M&Ms and water droplets during the zero gravity flight, which took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Several years ago, Fatone’s band mate Lance Bass attempted to fly to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. The flight never occurred.