NASA Spaceport to Host Zero-G Flights

How Safe Is a Roller Coaster in the Sky?
G-Force One is a modified Boeing 727 for commercial weightless flights. (Image credit: Zero Gravity Corp.)

CAPE CANAVERAL - Teacherswill experience the weightlessness of space in a weekend of parabolic flightsfrom Kennedy Space Center during a pilot program that could bring commercialflights to the shuttle landing strip.

Zero-G's proposal was oneof a handful of responses to KSC's request for ideas on using the landingfacility. NASA made the announcement Friday.

"We're hoping thiswill lead to a regular thing," Zero-G spokesman Noah McMahon said."We would actually love to be a permanent resident at the Kennedy SpaceCenter."

The list of teachers whowill be flying Nov. 5-6 is not complete. They will conduct experiments on thefour planned flights and take inspiration back to their classrooms, McMahonsaid.

NASA also is negotiatingwith other organizations that submitted proposals to use the Shuttle LandingFacility, said Jim Ball, spaceport development manager at KSC.

For now, the agency istrying to demonstrate that it's possible to open its facilities to non-NASAusers, he said.

The NASA spaceships thatcome after the shuttles won't use the runway. They are expected to land usingparachutes, probably in California.

Zero Gravity Corp. mostlyflies out of its Fort Lauderdale headquarters but has a Nov. 20 flightscheduled from Titusville. A flight costs $3,750 and creates short periods oflunar gravity, Martian gravity and zero gravity during a series ofbell-curve-shaped ascents and descents.

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Chris Kridler
Contributing Writer

Chris Kridler is a writer, editor, photographer and storm chaser who authored a group of storm-chasing adventure novels called Storm Seekers. As a reporter covering space, her subjects have included space shuttle missions, the Mars Rovers from California’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and a Soyuz launch and mission from Kazakhstan and Russia. Much of that work was published through her longtime column at Florida Today. Her photographs have been featured in magazines and books, including the covers of The Journal of Meteorology, the book Winderful, and the Wallace and Hobbs Atmospheric Science textbook. She has also been featured in Popular Photography. Kridler started chasing tornadoes in 1997, and continues the adventure every spring in Tornado Alley.