NASA and Zero Gravity Corporation,
known as ZERO-G, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 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, Fla., for non-NASA
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
"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
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