Recently in the Microgravity Category

ESA, France's space agency CNES and the German aerospace centre DLR inaugurated the Airbus A310 ZERO-G refitted for altered gravity by running 12 scientific experiments this week.

"NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston is accepting applications from teams of kindergarten, elementary and secondary school teachers to conduct scientific experiments aboard the agency's reduced gravity aircraft next year. The MicroGravity eXperience (Micro GX) flight program will take place July 12-20, 2013, at Johnson. Educators selected to fly also will participate in an online professional development course centered on microgravity science in the months before and after their flights. Seven teams, each composed of four to five educators from a single school or school district, will be selected to participate in Micro GX. The unique academic experience includes scientific and inquiry-based research, experiential learning during the reduced gravity flight, and education/public outreach activities." More.

"This year's "Fly Your Thesis!" campaign ended on 25 October. For three days, a specially equipped aircraft flew 31 manoeuvres - or parabolas - that generate microgravity conditions, giving students invaluable experience in how to design, construct and run experiments in a near weightless environment. Three student teams participated along with nine professional teams in the 57th ESA parabolic flight campaign. All investigated phenomena that are virtually impossible to study on the ground under the normal pull of gravity. The campaign began on 15 October and for the first five days the student teams readied their experiments for flight. This included loading the equipment into the body of the specially modified A-300 Airbus, and checking that everything was working." More

Announcement of Flight Opportunities #5

Flight Opportunities for Payloads Maturing Crosscutting Technologies that Advance Multiple Future Space Missions to Flight Readiness Status

"Dear Flight Opportunities community: We are pleased to announce the release of Announcement of Flight Opportunities #5 (AFO5) today. This new call brings back the opportunity to propose to the parabolic flight platform, in addition to our current sRLV and balloon providers. Proposal due date is September 21, with a tentative announcement of selections in November 2012."

Student Teams to Conduct Microgravity Experiments at Glenn Research Center

"NASA-selected student teams will test their science experiments in the 2.2-second drop tower at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland from March 15-20. While in free fall, the students' experiments will experience microgravity conditions similar to those on the International Space Station. The selections are part of two national science competitions: Dropping In a Microgravity Environment (DIME) for high school student teams and What If No Gravity? (WING) for student teams in fifth through eighth grades. The four winning DIME teams will receive a stipend to support a visit to Glenn to conduct their experiments, review the results with NASA personnel and tour Glenn's facilities."

Teachers Get Weightless on NASA Jet

Teachers Fly Experiments on NASA Reduced Gravity Flights

"More than 70 teachers had an opportunity to experience what it feels like to float in space as they participated in the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston last week. The teachers flew aboard an aircraft that flies parabolic flight paths, which create brief periods of weightlessness. It is a key component of NASA's astronaut training protocol. The teachers were selected for the flights through NASA's Teaching from Space and Explorer School Programs. NASA Associate Administrator for Education and two-time space shuttle astronaut Leland Melvin also participated in some of the flights and shared first-hand with the participants his experiences in astronaut training."

Microgravity Research Flight Teams Chosen

NASA Selects Student Teams For Microgravity Research Flights

"NASA has selected 24 undergraduate student teams to test science experiments under microgravity conditions. The teams will fly during 2012 as part of the agency's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program (RGEFP). The teams will design and build their experiments at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and conduct tests aboard an aircraft modified to mimic a reduced-gravity environment. The aircraft will fly approximately 30 parabolas with roller-coaster-like climbs and dips to produce periods of weightlessness and hyper-gravity ranging from 0 to 2g's."

NASA Solicitation: Payloads Requiring a Near-zero or Reduced Gravity Environment

"NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) seeks to mature towards flight readiness status crosscutting technologies that perform relevant environment testing and advance multiple future space missions. To facilitate this goal, NASA is providing access to certain flight opportunities available to the Agency, on a no-exchange-of funds basis, to entities that have technology payloads meeting specified criteria. They may be exposed to a near-zero or reduced gravity environment on high-altitude balloons, flying on aircraft that provide parabolic flight trajectories and on suborbital reusable launch vehicles (sRLVs) that are potentially capable of flying to altitudes above 100 km."

UCF Parabolic Flights Ahead

Students to Experience Free-Fall for Physics Experiment

"A team of current, past and future University of Central Florida students will float around in weightlessness like astronauts this month as part of a physics experiment that could provide valuable information for future trips to the Moon or asteroids. UCF Associate Professor Josh Colwell is leading a team of students on a Zero-G flight on a specially modified Boeing 727 on Nov. 20. The students will be manning several experiments during the flight, which departs from Titusville municipal airport at 10 a.m."

Video: Hacking Kinect - NASA Applications?

Think for a moment: Remember all of the things in "Avatar", "Star Trek", and other SciFi films that were controlled by people waving their hands over sexy looking devices, wandering around holodecks, or using remotely controlled bodies. When Kinect was first released, Microsoft was against anyone hacking it. A similar thing happened when LEGO Mindstorms was released and hobbyists began to fiddle with the software. As was the case with LEGO, Microsoft has done a complete 180 and has overtly embraced the notion that people can take technology and do things that its originators never imagined. How could Kinect hacks change the way that NASA does things? What would it be like to use Kinect as a whole body interface with 360 degrees of movement while living in microgravity aboard the ISS? Could NASA control Robonaut this way?

NASA Announces Two National Student Science Competitions

"NASA is offering students the opportunity to compete in two microgravity challenges: "Dropping In a Microgravity Environment," or DIME, and "What If No Gravity?" or WING. DIME is a team competition for high school students in the ninth through 12th grades. WING is a competition for student teams from the fifth through eighth grades. Both are project-oriented activities that last throughout the school year for the selected teams."

NASA Selects Technology Payloads For Reduced-Gravity Flights

"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."

Forward Osmosis Experiments in Microgravity

QinetiQ North America and NASA Advance Space Travel with First Forward Osmosis Experiments in Microgravity

"QinetiQ North America announced today the results of another successful experiment completed on board the final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) in July 2011. The experiment, the first of its kind in microgravity, tested the novel application in space of a technology modeled on a biological process used by cells on Earth to recover water from their environment. Already engineered for use in applications ranging from desalination plants to treating non-potable water for backpackers, forward osmosis is the natural diffusion of water through a semi-permeable membrane."

NASA Seeks Undergraduates To Fly Research In Microgravity

"NASA is offering undergraduate students the opportunity to test an experiment in microgravity as part of the agency's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program. The program is accepting proposals for two different flight experiences in 2012. Teams interested in conducting student-driven research should submit a letter of intent by Sept. 14. This step is optional, but serves as an introductory notice that a team plans to submit a proposal for the competition. Proposals for student-driven experiments are due Oct. 26, and selected teams will be announced Dec. 7. The actual flight experience will take place in June 2012."

Researchers from Louisiana Tech University will be floating high above the Gulf of Mexico this month to conduct zero-gravity testing of an experimental DNA analysis instrument developed at Tech that could benefit future NASA astronauts. Dr. Niel Crews, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Collin Tranter, a graduate student with the Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM) say the instrument could be used to monitor the health of astronauts exposed to cosmic radiation beyond Earth's protective atmosphere. More

What could possibly make an already super cool robotics competition even better? The zero-gravity environment of space! NASA and DARPA, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, TopCoder, and Aurora Flight Sciences, recently announced the Zero Robotics competition, an event open to all high schools in the United States that form a team and complete the application process. The Zero Robotics competition is a student software competition that takes the idea of a robotics competition to new heights--literally. The robots are basketball-sized satellites called SPHERES, and they look like something straight out of Star Wars. The competition is kicked off by a challenging problem conjured up by DARPA and NASA. After multiple rounds of simulation and ground competition, a final tournament will be held onboard the International Space Station! The 27 finalists will have their robotic programs run by an astronaut in the microgravity environment of space. More at OSTP

MADE IN SPACE, a start-up dedicated to providing solutions for manufacturing in space, announced the successful completion of testing 3D printers in zero-gravity. The test took place on multiple zero-gravity flights provided by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program. Two modified off-the-shelf 3D printers were tested, including one provided by their partner 3D Systems, a leading provider of 3D printing solutions. The company also tested a custom-made printer that's designed to manufacture structures in space.

Several objects were printed during the flight, including a scaled-down wrench that became the first ever tool printed through partial zero-gravity. They also built a part that was designed by Within Technologies to be optimized for complete strength-to-mass ratio.

A new way to fly experiments takes off tomorrow with the first campaign dedicated to research in 'partial' gravity. Scientists on Europe's 'Zero-G' Airbus will experiment with gravity conditions like those on the Moon and Mars. The Joint European Partial-g Parabolic Flight campaign is an unprecedented research mission organised jointly by ESA and the French and German space agencies, CNES and DLR. The pilots will follow special parabolic paths to create Moon and Mars gravity conditions for at least 25 seconds each time. The final parabola will provide full weightlessness for the experiments. More

Payloads selected under this announcement will fly on aircraft that provide parabolic flight trajectories and on suborbital reusable launch vehicles (sRLVs) that are capable of flying to altitudes above 100 km, providing exposure to reduced gravity and near-zero gravity environments. In exchange for the opportunity to fly, the proposer will provide data, designs, processes, and other relevant information to help NASA accomplish its mission. NASA is presently not considering human-tended payloads to be flown on sRLVs, and there will not be any NASA sponsored participants on sRLV flights relating to this particular announcement. The payloads to be flown on sRLV flights must operate autonomously. More

"There has never been a robot competition like this. ESA is launching the Zero Robotics competition for students, asking them to create rival programs to control miniature satellites. The final tournament is set for the International Space Station! This fight is not about muscles and weapons, but about brains, intelligence and agility. These small, bowling-ball-sized spherical satellites are Spheres - Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites. They are already used by NASA inside the Space Station to test sets of instructions for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking." More

Here on Earth, the process of boiling is used for tasks ranging from cooking and heating to power generation. In space exploration, boiling may also be used for power generation and other applications, but because boiling works differently in a zero-gravity environment, it is difficult to design hardware that will not overheat or cause other problems.

ESA Wants Your Suborbital Research Ideas

ESA is looking for new ways to conduct interesting research in space, on Earth - and in between. A number of commercial suborbital vehicles are being considered in Europe, and ESA is looking at the possibilities they might offer for microgravity research. If you think you could help, then we would be pleased to hear from you. 'Suborbital' means the vehicle reaches space but does not have the much greater speed required to enter orbit. Even so, the flights provide some 4 minutes of weightlessness. The main drivers for this new kind of vehicle are tourism and other commercial uses, but the craft may also offer a platform for scientific studies and to prepare experiments for the International Space Station (ISS). Several commercial suborbital spacecraft are being developed by industrial consortia supported by private investors, and ESA is now asking for more information.

The deadline is fast-approaching for undergraduate students to submit their team proposals to NASA's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program. Proposals must be received by 11:59 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, Oct. 27. NASA's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program gives aspiring explorers a chance to propose, design and fabricate a reduced gravity experiment. Selected teams will get to test and evaluate their experiment aboard a modified Boeing 727 jetliner provided by the Zero-Gravity Corporation of Las Vegas. Zero-Gravity Corp. will conduct the flights in cooperation with the Reduced Gravity Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Blue Origin has selected three unmanned research payloads to fly on the New Shepard suborbital vehicle as a part of Phase 1 of the New Shepard Research Flight Demonstration Program. These payloads were selected from an excellent field of submitted proposals.

The three investigations selected are:

* Three-Dimensional Critical Wetting Experiment in Microgravity. The principal investigator of this effort is Dr. Stephen Collicott, of Purdue University.

* Microgravity Experiment on Dust Environments in Astrophysics (MEDEA). The principal investigator of this effort is Dr. Joshua Colwell, of the University of Central Florida.

* Effective lnterfacial Tension lnduced Convection (EITIC). The principal investigator of this effort is Dr. John Pojman, of Louisiana State University.

These flights are planned to begin in the coming years to demonstrate the integration and operation of scientific experiments into the New Shepard system.

More information on Blue Origin, the New Shepard program, and its research and education applications can be found at Further inquiries should be directed to Dr. Alan Stern, Blue Origin's advisor for Research and Education Mission applications:

Further information at