Parabolic Flights Advance Space Technologies

G-FORCE-ONE
EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — A recent series of parabolic flights onboard Zero Gravity Corporation’s G-FORCE ONE aircraft demonstrated a variety of technologies selected by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program. The flight campaign consisted of two successful flights on March 21, 2018, lifting off from Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida.

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Parabolic Flight Campaign – Three ‘Firsts’ in Partial Gravity

A-310 ZERO-G at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport. (Credit: DLR, CC-BY 3.0)

BORDEAUX, France (DLR PR) — When the parabolic flight aircraft, the Airbus A310 ZERO-G, takes off from Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport on 5 June 2018, it will be a ‘first’ in several respects: for the first time, only life science experiments will be exposed to three very different gravity conditions during a joint campaign by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the European Space Agency (ESA) and French space agency CNES (Centre national d’études spatiales; CNES).

The idea of conducting a pure ‘life science campaign’ originated with the International Space Life Sciences Working Group (ISLSWG), an expert network at space agency level. This particular campaign includes a total of eight experiments – three of them from Germany – over three flight days. Also for the first time, a NASA life science experiment will be on board.
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JPL Researchers Validate Technology Performance on Zero-G Parabolic Flights

Research team members evaluate the performance of the Biosleeve Gesture Control Interface for Telerobotics on a March 2017 parabolic flight. (Credit: NASA)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — A series of parabolic flights from Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) in March 2017 enabled researchers to test and validate the performance of two technologies from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL):

  • Comet Sample Verification System (T0164-P): A tool that enables researchers to verify the quantity and volume of a sample from a comet surface before bringing it back to Earth for analysis
  • Biosleeve Gesture Control Interface for Telerobotics (T0161-P): A sleeve-based gesture-recognition interface that provides intuitive force and position control signals from natural arm, hand, and finger movements, with the potential to be embedded in clothing worn by astronauts working on the International Space Station (ISS) and other missions

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University Research Teams Validate Payload Performance on ZERO-G Parabolic Flights

University of Florida students work on revolutionary approach for efficient microgravity transfer line chilldown experiment. (Credit: NASA)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Several payload proposals selected from NASA’s Research Announcement: Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion (REDDI) 2016 solicitation flew as part of a Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) parabolic flight campaign during two weeks in March 2017.

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William Shatner to Float on Zero-G Flight


LAS VEGAS (Zero-G PR) – Star Trek® fans rejoice! Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G®) has partnered with Roddenberry Adventures to offer an extraordinary ZERO-G Experience® with William Shatner, beloved star of the iconic television series. For the first time, fans will have the chance to fly in zero gravity with the man who played Captain Kirk. A limited number of tickets for this exclusive flight on August 4 are now on sale to the general public.

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ZERO-G Research Flights Advance Technology for Future Deep-Space Missions


ORLANDO, Fla,
April 6, 2017 (Zero-G PR) – As part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G®) recently worked with research groups from University of Florida, Carthage College and University of Maryland to validate technology designed to further humanity’s reach into space. A collection of flights on G-FORCE ONE, ZERO-G’s specially modified Boeing 727, gave researchers the chance to run experiments and test innovative systems in the only FAA-approved, manned microgravity lab on Earth.

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Swiss Space Systems Declares Bankruptcy

SOAR spaceplane atop an A-300. (Credit: S3)
SOAR spaceplane atop an A-300. (Credit: S3)

A court in the Swiss canton of Vaud declared Swiss Space Systems (S3) bankrupt last Wednesday, according to media reports.

S3 has been developing an air-launch satellite booster and had planned to offer parabolic aircraft flights to the public later this year.

The bankruptcy declaration comes after nearly two years of financial difficulties. Members of the U.S. office departed the company at the end of 2015 after going much of the year without being paid.

Founder and CEO Pascal Jaussi was hospitalized in August with serious burns. He told authorities two men forced him to drive to a remote area where they doused him with gasoline and set him on fire.

GAO Review Recommends FAA Review of Space Support Vehicle Regulations

F-104's in flight. (Credit: Starfighters Aerospace)
F-104’s in flight. (Credit: Starfighters Aerospace)

A review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conduct a review of its regulations for space support vehicles used to train space tourists and  conduct reduced gravity experiments.

“The Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) should direct the FAA Administrator to fully examine and document whether the FAA’s current regulatory framework is appropriate for space support vehicles and, if not, suggest legislative or regulatory changes, or both, as applicable,” the report states.

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UK Space Agency Seeks Microgravity Research Ideas

Credit: UKSA
Credit: UKSA

The UK Space Agency is seeking ideas for new science experiments using commercial sub-orbital flights. This will help the Agency understand potential future demand from the science community for such platforms and scope the advantages, constraints, costs and other factors. All information received will inform government decisions regarding if and how to support work in this area.

The Agency will review submissions and consider inviting some to conduct full industrial studies, to better understand the constraints, feasibility and costs of building a full flight experiment.

Full Details

S3 Partners With Fert to Market ZeroG Experience

Swiss_Space_Systems_logoGENEVA (S3 PR) — A week after completing the acquisition of an Airbus A340-300, S3 announces an exclusive partnership with the travel agency Fert Travel and its international network ITP for the worldwide marketing of S3 ZeroG flights.

Fert & Cie is working in partnership with S3 for the marketing of its ZeroG flights. The Geneva-based agency will also assist S3 passengers with the organisation of ancillary services such as flights as well as bespoke hotel accommodation through the International Travel Partnership (ITP) network.

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Swiss Space Systems Secures A-340 Airliner for Parabolic Flights

The Airbus A340-300 aircraft registered as 9H-TQM, to be painted very soon to the S3 "Black" livery. (Credit: S3)
The Airbus A340-300 aircraft registered as 9H-TQM, to be painted very soon to the S3 “Black” livery. (Credit: S3)

LISBON, Portugal (S3 PR) — Aerospace company Swiss Space Systems (S3) announces the completion of its Airbus A340-300 acquisition, in order to commercially operate ZeroG flights in 2016 and 2017, a world premiere.

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Zero Gravity Back in Action

Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity Kate Upton Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA Credit: James Macari
Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity
Kate Upton
Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA
Credit: James Macari

It looks like Zero Gravity Corporation is back flying after a gap of about a year and a half. The company had a legal dispute with the owners of the engines on its Boeing-727 aircraft. It also needed  re-certification of its plane by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The company put out a press release this week celebrating its 10th anniversary and announced a 20 percent discount in its ticket price. It is reproduced below.

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Hedgehog Robots Hop, Tumble in Microgravity

'Hedgehog' Robots Hop, Tumble in Microgravity While a Mars rover can't operate upside down, the Hedgehog robot can function regardless of which side lands up. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stanford)
While a Mars rover can’t operate upside down, the Hedgehog robot can function regardless of which side lands up. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stanford)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds. Traditional Mars rovers, for example, roll around on wheels, and they can’t operate upside-down. But on a small body, such as an asteroid or a comet, the low-gravity conditions and rough surfaces make traditional driving all the more hazardous.

Enter Hedgehog: a new concept for a robot that is specifically designed to overcome the challenges of traversing small bodies. The project is being jointly developed by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; Stanford University in Stanford, California; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

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NASA’s C-9B Flies Successful Microgravity Campaign

Northwestern University researchers gathered data for their foam experiment during parabolic flight. (Credit: NASA Photo)
Northwestern University researchers gathered data for their foam experiment during parabolic flight. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Flying on NASA’s C-9B parabolic aircraft, researchers tested their experiments during June 9 to 11 flights, which simulated either zero gravity, or the gravity of an asteroid. The plane flew a total of 188 parabolas during the four-day campaign.

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Draper to Flight Test New Spacesuit Technology

Draper_gyroscopeCAMBRIDGE, MA (Draper Laboratory PR) – As Sandra Bullock’s character in the movie “Gravity” spun away from the space shuttle following an accident during a spacewalk, she found herself disoriented and unable to determine her own position. Astronauts find that the lack of gravitational force that made her character unable to distinguish up from down can also be disorienting when doing routine research and other tasks in the initial days after reaching orbit, and its absence during prolonged weightlessness can lead to muscle and bone loss.

NASA has funded Draper Laboratory to address these concerns with new spacesuit technology that introduces a sensation similar to gravitational pull, giving them a sense of “down” while in space. The artificial force could also keep astronauts healthier by giving them the slight resistance to movement that comes with gravity, which helps keep muscles in shape and bones from degenerating.

The space agency announced plans on April 22 to test Draper’s spacesuit technology in a microgravity environment during parabolic flight funded by its Flight Opportunities Program.

“This flight opportunity allows us to demonstrate our technology in a relevant environment for spaceflight use, as well as determine how much torque we need to generate so that astronauts can feel the resistance while weightless,” explained Kevin Duda, Draper’s principal investigator for the Variable Vector Countermeasure Suit (V2Suit).

Draper began development of the V2Suit, which includes an inertial measurement unit and control moment gyroscopes to raise or lower resistance to body movements, with funding from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) office. Draper is also investigating the possibility of applying the same technology here on Earth to stabilize walking and other movements for the elderly, and assist with injury rehabilitation.