Commercial, weightless flights will be offered this weekend at Moffett Field, California, under the terms of an agreement between NASA and the Zero Gravity Corporation, the company behind the mission last year which enabled Professor Stephen Hawking to experience weightlessness last year out of the Kennedy Space Center.
Although corporation officials said the first flight scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday 16 February) is already sold out, additional flights will be scheduled later this year.
A Reimbursable Space Act Agreement between NASA’s Ames and Zero-G allows the corporation to park its aircraft on the airfield while flight operations are being conducted and during scheduled flights. The agreement also calls for NASA and Zero-G to develop research collaborations, starting in the autumn.
During its flight operations at NASA’s Ames, the company will use a modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, G-Force One, and fly from the Moffett Field runway. Passengers aboard the aircraft will experience brief periods of the same weightlessness that astronauts encounter while orbiting the Earth, as well as the same gravity conditions they would experience on the moon and on Mars.
While new to NASA’s Ames, this is not the first time that these weightless flights have taken place at a NASA center. In 2006, Zero-G reached an agreement with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida., to use the space shuttle runway for similar weightless flights for the public. Zero-G began operating weightless flights for the public at Kennedy in 2006, flying up to seven flights per week, up to a maximum of 280 flights a year.
As part of the agreement, the corporation, which was recently awarded a contract from NASA to conduct research and astronaut training, will reimburse NASA for the use of the runway and support costs.
Both NASA and Zero-G say scheduling of flights at Moffett Field will not interfere with NASA missions, other resident federal agencies, or with airfield operations or other activities, and will only take place in daylight hours and, hopefully to allay long-running concerns from local resident groups in Mountain View about aircraft noise, say the Boeing used is one of the quietest developed.
• For more information about ZERO-G visit: www.GoZeroG.com