Research

Aircraft flying parabolic trajectories have provided an important milestone in space exploration and research during the past 50 years. Parabolic flights are the only manned research platform in weightlessness, where scientists are able to conduct their experiments themselves. With thousands of experiments in the last decades, parabolic flights are the backbone of microgravity and spaceflight research and technology development. Parabolic flights are the basis for every manned spaceflight program – until today. Research in microgravity is the driving force for manned spaceflight and exploration beyond our home planet.

 

For more information, we recommend the following review articles:

Vladimir Pletser. European aircraft parabolic flights for microgravity research, applications and exploration: A review.  REACH – Reviews in Human Space Exploration, volume 1, March 2016, pages 11–19,
www.sciencedirect.com

Vladimir Pletser, Sebastien Rouquette, Ulrike Friedrich, Jean-Francois Clervoy, Thierry Gharib, Frederic Gai, Christophe Mora. European parabolic flight campaigns with Airbus ZERO-G: Looking back at the A300 and looking forward to the A310. Advances in Space Research, volume 56, issue 5, 1 September 2015, pages 1003–1013, www.sciencedirect.com

 

The only manned research platform in weightlessness on Earth

During the past 50 years aircrafts flying parabolic trajectories have provided an important milestone in space exploration and research. Parabolic flights are the only manned research platform in weightlessness, through which scientists are able to conduct their experiments by themselves.

After thousands of experiments in the last decades, parabolic flights are the backbone of microgravity and spaceflight research and technology development. To date, parabolic flights are the basis for every manned spaceflight program.

 

The parabolic maneuver

Research in microgravity is the driving force for manned spaceflight and exploration beyond our home planet. During a parabolic flight maneuver, an aircraft is weightless by flying on a “Keplerian trajectory”, which is described as an unpropelled body in an ideally frictionless space subjected to a centrally symmetric gravitational field.

During this free-fall trajectory, the resultant of all forces acting on the aircraft other than gravity is nulled. An entire scientific parabolic flight campaign usually consists of three individual parabolic flights with 31 respective parabolas in sequence (93 parabolas in total).

 

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