NASA Selects 21 Projects to Fly on Zero G Aircraft


NASA has selected 21 technology demonstration projects to fly on reduced gravity aircraft flights during the week of Aug. 10 through its Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training program known as FAST.

The FAST program is designed to enable new technologies to be incorporated into NASA’s flight programs and other commercial space applications. FAST provides an opportunity to demonstrate whether emerging technologies will perform as expected in the zero-gravity environment of Earth orbit or the reduced gravity environment of the moon or Mars. The selected projects will demonstrate new technologies from U.S. companies, universities and NASA laboratories located in 13 states.

These gravity conditions can be simulated for periods of 20 to 30 seconds at a time in an aircraft flying repeated parabolic trajectories. The FAST program can reduce the risk of using new technologies during space missions by providing those technologies with an opportunity to prove how they work in a reduced-gravity environment or understand why they do not work.

The technology demonstration projects will address important issues such as lunar regolith processing and handling, lunar dust mitigation, demonstration of new mechanisms, manufacturing in space, and validation of variable gravity phenomena. NASA’s Innovative Partnership Program prioritized technology needs and selection of these projects through close collaboration with the agency’s mission directorates.

NASA will provide reduced-gravity flight time for the tests at no cost to the selected project teams. The teams will be responsible for all other expenses. The flights will be conducted using commercially available services from the Zero Gravity Corporation, provided under a commercial contract with NASA. The aircraft will fly approximately 30 to 40 reduced-gravity parabolas per day for four consecutive flight days during the week of Aug. 10.

The Reduced Gravity Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston oversees the test operations, and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland will provide technical support to the project teams.

Funded projects include:

  • Sub-cooled Pool Boiling in Variable Gravity, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
  • Free-Fall Regolith Heating, Packer Engineering Inc., Naperville, IL
  • Magnetic Un-jamming and Flow Control of Lunar Soil, NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL
  • Low-Gravity Regolith Sampling, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Denver, CO with University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
  • Tribocharged Electrostatic Beneficiation of Lunar Simulant, NASA Kennedy Space Center with ASRC Aerospace, Kennedy Space Center, FL
  • Antimicrobial Materials for Microgravity Environments, NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL
  • Electrophoresis on a Fluidized Bed in Variable Gravity, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
  • Vacuum-Compatible Multi-Axis Manipulator/Machining Center for Space Missions, Beck Engineering Inc., Port Orchard, WA
  • Microgravity Free Vortex Fluid Separator, Dynaflow Inc., Jessup, MD
  • Flowing and Sifting Lunar Soil Simulant, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH
  • High-Accuracy Eye-Movement Monitor, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  • Martian/Lunar Dust Mitigation, ASRC Aerospace, Kennedy Space Center, FL
  • A Countermeasure for Motion Sickness: Autogenic Feedback, NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA
  • Modeling Cardiovascular Dynamics from Echocardiography and Impedance Cardiography, NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA with University of Akron, Akron, OH
  • Reduced Gravity Cryo-Tracker Operation, Sierra Lobo Inc., Milan, OH
  • Pneumatic Mining System under Lunar Gravity and Vacuum, Honeybee Robotics, New York, NY
  • Rule-based Analytic Asset Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Aurora Flight Sciences, Cambridge, MA
  • Lunar Gravity Testing of an Oxygen Extraction System, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
  • Flux-Pinned Non-Contacting Joints for Small Spacecraft Reconfiguration, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
  • Cyclonic Filtering of Pneumatically Conveyed Lunar Regolith Simulant, NASA Kennedy Space Center with ASRC Aerospace, Kennedy Space Center, FL
  • Spiderbot Microgravity Flight Experiment, BlueSky Robotics, Los Angeles, CA