7th Student Parabolic Flight Campaign Day 5: Spacerang and Funambule
Team 1072 - Universitaet Regensburg, Germany
Having spent a week at the Novespace site in Bordeaux, building our experiment and installing it into the airplane, finally the day of our first experience of weightlessness has arrived.
After a security briefing in the morning with a lot of instructions on how to behave before and during a parabolic flight, we had lunch and got our drug cocktail against motion sickness.
When we were boarding, you could really sense the tension that was among all the participants of the familiarisation flight.
After take-off, the time until the first parabola flew by, whereas the last 10 seconds seemed to last forever.
Everybody was strictly following the advice not to turn the head sideways during the hypergravity phase and the absolute silence was only broken by the cabin announcements of the captain.
As soon as weightlessness set in, the tension was released by euphoric cheering of all the passengers. There aren’t any words to describe how one feels when encountering weightlessness for the first time.
During the remaining four parabolas, we started to think about the practical side of our experiment, such as examining how boomerangs behave under unusual conditions.
With the five parabolas being an almost too short teaser of the great experience of weightlessness, we are looking forward to the next two days when we’ll be able to conduct our experiment in a total of 62 parabolas.
Although the main event is yet to come, we would already like to thank ESA, Novespace and all people involved for this unique opportunity.
Team 1076 - University of Sherbrooke, Canada
Today we took part in the familiarization flight. First and foremost, we have to admit that this was one of our best experiences ever! The first thing we noticed is that the plane took off much quicker and with a much higher angle than a normal commercial flight; the feeling was closer to a jet fighter take off.
The excitement increased even more when we saw the blue sky only a few minutes after the take-off. Then ten minutes later, we entered our first weightless parabola. The initial disorientation was interesting enough since none of us had any “throw back effect”. We only had a few seconds to adapt before the weightless state was over.
Before the flight we thought that an amusement park roller coaster would be a good comparison for this experience… But it does not even come close! The 1.8 G effect was not as uncomfortable as we expected, but we could feel that the pull-down was smoother than the pull-up.
We also managed to make a further advance in the vast world of science while we were at it :-). We took two water bottles with us; one containing just water, the other with water, oil and stones.
In weightlessness, the water formed a sphere in the middle of the oil, which was not necessarily what we had expected. The other bottle, containing water only, was also interesting; the big air bubbles in it were floating freely IN the water! Another very interesting experiment was the free floating of a pink, furry object.