When I flew on my reduced-gravity flight (the experience of which is chronicled, my flight was a total of 32 parabolas 30 microgravity parabolas, plus one lunar and one Martian parabola where we felt what gravity feels like on those worlds. That’s the “typical” experience in the NASA Reduced Gravity Flight Program where students design, build and fly an experiment for reduced gravity.
When writing recently about students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who participated in the program in 2009, I noticed right away a major difference between their experiences than mine: their experiment tested the flow rates of several different kinds of soils under lunar gravity conditions. They needed to test their experiment in lunar gravity one-sixth gravity instead of the microgravity on my flight. While my flight gave me a feel for what it’s like to be on the space shuttle or International Space Station, these students got a much longer feel for what’s like to be an astronaut on the moon.Cilk to Continue