NASA and Zero Gravity Corporation, known as ZERO-G, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, have announced the firm’s participation in a pilot program.
It will demonstrate expanded access to and use of the space shuttle’s runway and landing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, for non-NASA activities.
ZERO-G will conduct weightless flights from the facility using its Boeing 727-200 aircraft, called G-Force One, the weekend of Nov. 5-6. The passengers, called “Flyers,” will predominantly be teachers who will perform simple microgravity experiments they can share with their students back in the classroom.
The provider of weightless flights will be the first in a series of demonstration projects invited to use the landing facility to help NASA develop policy, management and operational approaches to opening the 15,000- foot runway to non-NASA use. The pathfinder project was proposed by ZERO-G in response to NASA’s recent solicitation of interest in non-NASA uses for the facility.
“We’re excited to have ZERO-G come to the Shuttle Landing Facility as the first demonstration project in this effort to broaden the facility’s use,” said Kennedy Space Center Director Jim Kennedy. “Their activities to help share the experience of spaceflight with the general public, especially those educators who are developing our next generation of explorers, offer a strong synergy with NASA’s own outreach and educational activities,” he said.
In addition to giving passengers a brief exposure to the zero gravity experience astronauts have while orbiting earth, the parabolic flights also offer a simulation of the gravity a person would feel on the moon and on Mars, providing a glimpse of what future NASA crews will encounter.
Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of ZERO-G explained, “Our flyers train just like astronauts and live their dream of being weightless. More than 1,250 customers in the last year have been able to fly with ZERO-G and company officials are excited to be part of the effort to expand use of the historic Shuttle Landing Facility.”
ZERO-G and NASA also are discussing future potential flight activity that will support scientists and their experiments, using Kennedy Space Center experiment-processing capabilities, as well as the availability of nearby airspace.
Other potential projects proposed to NASA in response to the Request for Information are in the discussion stage with their respective organizations and are expected to be announced jointly in the near future.
The pilot program is being sponsored by the Kennedy Space Center, Center Operations Directorate, and is supported by NASA’s Office of Space Operations for the purpose of helping NASA implement U.S. Space Transportation Policy and the President’s Management Agenda.