Utah State University experiences zero gravity

The plane dropped from under the passengers and nose-dived at a 45-degree angle. In the midst of a free fall, passengers felt zero-gravity and merely floated in awe. A group of Utah State University engineers were among those passengers who recently experienced microgravity when conducting an experiment aboard NASA’s aircraft. “I remember the first parabola just felt like a mix of ‘Huh?’ and “Whoa!'” said Ryan Martineau, a sophomore at USU. “To me, it just felt like for the first time in my life I was free from a constraint that I didn’t know I could live without.” The group of USU engineers, formally known as the Get Away Special team, was invited aboard The Weightless Wonder to carry out research. The Weightless Wonder is a plane that moves in parabolic paths about 32 times to create reduced gravity. Stationed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, The Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program is NASA’s way of showing students how they can apply their knowledge to a hands-on experiment. It offers a nationwide opportunity for students to become familiar with the challenges faced within the microgravity environment. The Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program was founded in 1995 by aircraft operations manager, George Abby. It was created to mirror similar European space agencies’ programs. Colleges and universities from 49 of 50 states—Delaware would be the 50— as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have participated in the flight program and experienced zero gravity. Sara Malloy, Lead Program coordinator for the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program said, “When you sit in a classroom and read a book, that is a good knowledge base but that doesn’t give you a real world experience.” RGEFP offers just that. “I need to be able to do the steps, rather than someone just telling me how and expect me to know what I am doing,” said Jenica Sparrow, a freshman on the GAS team since fall of 2010. RGEFP provided “opportunities to apply the methods and formulas I am learning in the classroom to an actual situation.” Out of 65 proposals submitted last fall, only 14 were chosen to perform experiments at JSC in Houston, Texas. Along with schools like Purdue, Yale and Cal-Tech, USU’s GAS team rose to the challenge. Established in 1976 by R. Gilbert Moore, the GAS team is responsible for making USU…To read the rest of this article in its entirety, visit the

<a href=”http://www.usustatesman.com/utah-state-university-experiences-zero-gravity-1.2605792″>Utah Statesman website</a>


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