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00-058

For Release: October 10, 2000


Barbara Kakiris
Media Relations Office
(216) 433-2513
barbara.l.kakiris@grc.nasa.gov

Lori J. Rachul
Media Relations Office
(216) 433-8806
lori.j.rachul@grc.nasa.gov

"Gateway to Space" Celebrates Historic Milestone

It's no surprise that the path an experiment must take to get into space is a rigorous one. But it's interesting to know that the trail often starts at NASA Glenn Research Center's 2.2 Second Drop Tower.

"The 2.2 Second Drop Tower is the 'gateway to space' for many experiments that have flown on the Space Shuttle and will fly on the International Space Station," said Jack A. Salzman, chief, Microgravity Science Division. "It has produced more scientific data than any other microgravity facility at NASA Glenn."

So much data, in fact, that the drop tower is celebrating its 20,000 drop. This is a significant milestone because one of NASA's goals is to expand the human presence in space. Based on drop tower findings to date, new areas can be explored and areas already investigated can be expanded on with more sophistication.

The drop tower is becoming increasingly important because the trend in scientific areas is to identify disciplines in which microgravity makes a difference. For example, our nation's quality of life and economic competitiveness have benefited from lessons learned in microgravity combustion experiments that investigated pollution and fuel efficiency, respectively.

The Microgravity Science Division was created to discover why matter reacts differently in space as well as to develop technologies and systems that enable humans to work in space.

Only the best is flown in space, in order to eliminate risk and waste. An experiment must exhaust all ground-based capabilities before consideration for spaceflight, and the drop tower is the means for determining whether or not experiments are space ready.

Glenn is NASA's lead Center for conducting microgravity science research in combustion and fluid physics.

For more information on Glenn's Microgravity Science Division, please visit:

http://microgravity.grc.nasa.gov

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Note to Editors: On Thursday, October 12, media representatives are invited to join NASA dignitaries including Salzman at an Open House for the drop tower. The event takes place from 1 - 3 p.m. at the facility and includes a drop test demonstration at 1:30 p.m. to celebrate the historic 20,000 drop.

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