Fly Your Thesis! programme

Zero-G Airbus A300 for parabolic flights

The Fly Your Thesis! programme gives university students, from Master’s to PhD level, the opportunity to fly their scientific experiment  or technological research in microgravity conditions.  The experiments can be related to fluid physics, chemistry, biology, material sciences, heat transfer and astrophysics. The parabolic flight campaign takes place on the Airbus A310 Zero-G, which is operated by Novespace from Bordeaux, France.  Each campaign, which consists in a series of three flights of 30 parabolas each, will provide about 20 s of microgravity for each parabola.

The aircraft is a two-engine modified Airbus A310 Zero-G aircraft, with an overall length of 46.4 m, a wingspan of 43.9 m, and a maximum mass of 157 tonnes. The aircraft provides a testing volume inside the cabin of 20 x 5 x 2.3 m3 (L x W x H) with a total mass of up to 4000 kg for all experiments, allowing a maximum of 40 experimenters or approximately12 teams (of which max 4 student teams) to perform their experiments. 

Experiments for the Airbus A310 Zero-G will be mounted on primary structures with a maximum base dimension of 1500 mm x 800 mm and a height of 1200 mm and can weigh up to 75 kg.

With the Fly your Thesis! (FYT) programme, ESA provides university students with the chance to perform experimental research in facilities not usually accessible to them. The programme launches a call for proposals once a year, which then stays open for a minimum of two months. During this phase, student teams of 2 to 4 students, together with the endorsing professors from their universities, are encouraged to send in their proposals for experiments using the Airbus A310 Zero-G.

These experiments can cover various fields, as long as relevant research is being done in that field. The Review Board, composed of experts from ELGRA, ESA’s Human Spaceflight and Operations Directorate, and ESA’s Education Office, will make a first selection of up to 15 teams by the end of October. The final selection of up to four teams is expected by mid-December.  These teams will be given the opportunity to perform a 2 week campaign that will take place in Bordeaux, France. The development of the experiment, after selection, will take around 9 months. After the campaign is over, the results will need to be processed and documented within 4 months. A more detailed timeline can be found here.

FYT is a great opportunity for students to conduct their experiments in microgravity conditions. Moreover, their research results can be published in papers and journals, and can also be presented at international conferences.

Are you interested in participating in the next Fly Your Thesis! campaign? Please check the links on the left side of this page, and see how you can apply.

Quick Facts

Project: Fly Your Thesis!
Level: University (Master’s and PhD students)
Status: Call for proposals is open; deadline 21 September 2015
Contact: flyyourthesis @ esa.int
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