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Press Release 95-27

[Note: Associated image is available.]

Lori J. Rachul
(Bus: 216/433-8806)


CLEVELAND, OH -- NASA Lewis Research Center today held a ceremonial roll out of a DC-9 aircraft that will serve as an airborne research facility for microgravity science.

The DC-9 aircraft, operated by NASA's Lewis Research Center, makes a state of near weightlessness or microgravity to scientists and engineers for brief periods.

The aircraft will be dedicated to performing NASA's microgravity research in the areas of biotechnology, combustion science, fluid physics and materials science. The aircraft will provide investigators with a series of 18-22 second periods of microgravity flying parabolic maneuvers. This provides a significant period of microgravity allowing investigators to conduct experiments and develop equipment for use on the international Space Station and other orbital platforms.

The microgravity environment allows scientists to temporarily minimize the effects of gravity which in turn provides a better understanding of the role that gravity plays in chemical, physical and biological processes and phenomena. The microgravity environment aboard the DC-9 also allows scientists to study phenomena that are obscured by the effects of gravity.

The DC-9 arrived at Lewis in October, 1994 as a fully equipped passenger aircraft. Modifications included removal of the passenger interior and installation of a new interior with a new electrical power distribution system for research equipment.

The retrofit also included a low gravity guidance system, which helps pilots fly highly accurate parabolic trajectories and a research data distribution system that provides flight data to researchers at five different locations in the aircraft.

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