The pilot Steve Gale boarded the plane with Australia’s first commercial “parabolic” aircraft, in which the plane flew in the direction of a free-flowing object, creating a short period of weight loss for everyone and everything inside.
Parabolic flights are usually a test of zero-gravity conditions. This was used by the Australian space company Beings Systems, which plans to operate regular commercial airlines in the coming years.
As the Australian space program begins to take off, planes like these will be much needed.
What was on the plane?
The flight test was a small package developed by space science students at RMIT University. As a program manager for the RMIT space science degree program, I have taught these students for the past three years, preparing them for work in the Australian space industry.
Examination investigates the effect of zero gravity on plant growth, crystal growth, heat transfer, particle mixing, bubbles, and magnets.
Scientific events behave differently from zero gravity than in terrestrial labs. This is important for two main reasons.
First, the gravitational force of zero, or “microgravity,” provides a “clean” environment in which experiments are performed. By removing gravity from the system, we can learn something from the “pure” state and thus better understand it.
Second, microgravity platforms such as parabolic airplanes, sound rockets, and towers provide equipment for testing equipment and science before being sent into Space.