Skip to main content

Space History Photo: Christa McAuliffe Experiences Weightlessness During KC-135 Flight

space history, vomit comet, Challenger tragedy
Teacher Christa McAuliffe experiences the "vomit comet." (Image credit: Keith Meyers of the New York Times)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, Sharon Christa McAuliffe received a preview of microgravity during a special flight aboard NASA's KC-135 "zero gravity" aircraft.

A special parabolic pattern flown by the aircraft provides shore periods of weightlessness. These flights are often nicknamed the "vomit comet" because of the nausea that is often induced.

McAuliffe represented the Teacher in Space Project aboard the STS 51-L/Challenger when it exploded during take-off on January 28, 1986 and claimed the lives of the crewmembers.

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

NASA Archives
NASA Archives

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Founded in 1958, NASA is a civilian space agency aimed at exploring the universe with space telescopes,  satellites, robotic spacecraft, astronauts and more. The space agency has 10 major centers based across the U.S. and launches robotic and crewed missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. It's astronaut corps is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. To follow NASA's latest mission, follow the space agency on Twitter or any other social channel, of visit: nasa.gov