Space.com Defies Gravity
In April 2014, Space.com shadowed a group of students from the University of California, San Diego who were selected by NASA to test an experiment on board a zero-gravity flight.
UCSD Team Suits Up for Flight Week
The UCSD team suits up for flight week. From left to right: Joshua Siu, Jose Garcia, Henry Lu, Sam Avery, Semaan Farah, Andrew Beeler, Greta Sharoyan and Victor Hong
Astronaut Stott and Students Aboard Zero-Gravity Flight
From left: Student Victor Hong, NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, Andrew Beeler and Henry Lu pose for a selfie aboard a their zero-gravity flight on April 10, 2014. The University of California, San Diego students were testing how biofuels burn in weightless conditions.
The first group of fliers for UCSD (from left to right: Victor Hong, Andrew Beeler and Henry Lu) ran their experiment with ethanol and kerosene on April 10, 2014.
Megan in Zero-G
Space.com's Megan Gannon during the flight on April 11, 2014.
The students built an elaborate contraption so that they could safely light small fires on the plane and measure the burn rate of four different fuels: butanol, ethanol, E85 and kerosene.
The team unpacks their experiment, shipped to Ellington Field from San Diego.
Megan at the Controls
Space.com reporter Megan Gannon tries running the biofuel experiment.
The UCSD students practice running their experiment in NASA's hanger at Ellington Field in Houston on April 9, 2014.
Semaan Farah practices using the controls to operate UCSD's biofuel experiment.
Fire in Weightlessness
Flames in space lose their teardrop shape. In a weightless environment, fires tend to look like bluish, slow-burning orbs. This actually makes it easier to study and define the combustion rate of different fuels.