Defying Gravity: Lighting Weightless Fires for Science (Photos)

Strapping Down the Experiment

Victor Hong

Team leader Sam Avery and ground support team members Greta Sharoyan and Jose Garcia secure the experiment on board G-Force One.

Victor Floats

Victor Hong

UCSD team member Victor Hong floats upside down during his flight on April 10, 2014.

Astronaut Selfie


NASA astronaut Nicole Stott snaps a selfie with UCSD students (from back to front) Henry Lu, Andrew Beeler and Victor Hong on April 10, 2014.

Zero-G Experiment


Sam Avery, Semaan Farah and Joshua Siu get ready to test their experiment on April 11, 2014.

Lighting Fires


The students attempted to steady themselves after weightlessness kicked in so that they could ignite tiny droplets of butanol and E85 in their experiment.



From left to right: Jessica Tramaglina, a NASA flight controller for the International Space Station and the UCSD team's mentor; Semaan Farah of UCSD;'s Megan Gannon; and Sam Avery and Joshua Siu, both of UCSD.

Smiles on G-Force One

Jessica Tramaglina, a NASA flight controller for the International Space Station, and's Megan Gannon.

Group Shot


The April 11th fliers pose for a photo.

NASA's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program


Frank Prochaska, program manager of NASA's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program


The UCSD students on April 11, 2014.

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Megan Gannon Contributing Writer

Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity on a Zero Gravity Corp. to follow students sparking weightless fires for science. Follow her on Twitter for her latest project.