Zero G Flight

Posted March 7, 2000 at 5:36 pm 1 Comment

The morning briefing.  That cardboard box
on the table is full of airsickness bags.

After a week of preparation, today we finally made our flight on the KC-135.  After signing a release form, we were issued a flight suit and given a capsule of “Scop-Dex”, an anti-nausea drug made of scopolamine and Dexedrine.
Although we had planned out what tasks we would be performing at the apex of each of the 35 parabolas, we hadn’t anticipated how difficult it was to perform the simplest of tasks in zero gravity.  Twenty-five seconds is shorter than you might think, particularly when you’re completely disoriented.  Four parabolas had gone by before we had even succeeded in opening our mission toolkit.

After the confusion of the first dozen
parabolas, I was able to let loose
a little and flip around.

If you’d like to get an idea of what it’s like to float around in zero gravity, you can check out some of our in-flight videos.  There’s one of Kate attempting to describe our project, and another one of me.  Both of us sound fairly muddled; it was awfully difficult to concentrate with all the plastic bags and earplugs floating around the cabin.And while you’re downloading large video clips, you might be interested in this one, which shows an exterior view of the plane’s trajectory.
Before the flight, we decided to adopt a “puke-and-rally” strategy, should it prove necessary.  In this photo, I’m pretending to be “Puke” and Kate is pretending to be “Rally”.

The cockpit of the KC-135 was crazy-cool. 

As it turned out, however, we didn’t need to put our strategy into action.  We were among the seven people on the flight that didn’t get sick.  The other nine didn’t fare as well.  Our flight team was so well-behaved that at the end they let me sit up front with the pilots.

I’m glad that there were NASA reporters along to document our flight, because photography is another thing that suddenly becomes very difficult in zero G.  Most of my pictures turned out like the one at right.

At least this photo gives you an idea
of the floating and flailing going on.

We actually snuck in the back door of the museum, so we had to
temporarily hide in this alien display until the security guard passed by.

After a successful flight, we hit Pe-Te’s Cajun Barbecue House for some red beans and rice.  Then we closed out our visit to Houston with a celebratory trip to the space museum to stock up on space ice cream and freeze-dried french-fries.  We even bought an inflatable astronaut for the lab, and wrote “Monzy” on his  nametag.

Honestly, though, don’t think I’m cut out for a career as an astronaut.  Although I loved working on our project and had a fantastic time visiting the Johnson Space Center, I think I’ll leave the space flights to Kate.  Maybe instead I can be one of those guys in the control room who figures out what to do when she says “Houston, we have a problem.”

1 Comment »

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  1. Hey Monzy,

    I keep coming across your posts in my research and have always enjoyed them over the years. I know that all teams participating in the zero g program are required to maintain a web site, but that 95% of the teams abandon their sites as soon as the flight is over. Don’t know what can be done about it though. Thanks for the good work.

    Comment by William — December 20, 2006 #

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