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March 11, 1998

Beth Schmid
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1760)

Eileen Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Burke Fort
Texas Space Grant Consortium, Austin, TX
(Phone: 512/471-7225)

Release: H98-40

Teams of College Students Prepare Experiments For NASA's Reduced Gravity Aircraft

Forty-seven teams of undergraduate college students from around the country will "float" through school this month aboard a NASA research aircraft. The teams will participate in the 1998 NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities program, funded by NASA and administered by the Texas Space Grant Consortium, Austin, TX.

Each team consists of up to four undergraduate-level college students, a supervising professor, and a professional journalist. All team members, except the supervising professor, will have the opportunity to fly.

Teams will develop and fly experiments aboard a NASA KC-135A aircraft that flies a roller-coaster-like flight profile over the Gulf of Mexico. Each team will fly twice, and each flight will include approximately 40 parabolic arcs. During each two- to three-hour flight, the aircraft maneuvers through steep climbs and descents; depending on the precise trajectory, passengers and their experiments can experience about 25 seconds of a zero-gravity environment. Astronauts train for space flight, and NASA scientists have conducted extensive experiments, aboard this aircraft.

This year's teams are divided into two groups: Group A will report March 16 - 28, and Group B March 23 - April 4 at Ellington Field, near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. During the first week, participants will receive pre-flight training and assemble and test their experiment packages. During the second week, they will fly with their experiments, adjust their equipment as needed, and conduct post-flight debriefings and reviews.

In addition to performing the experiments, each team has developed a program for sharing research results with teachers, students, and the general public after the flights. Participants must analyze their data, prepare educational or informational materials, and submit final reports.

A list of the selected teams and additional information about the program can be found on the Internet at the following URL:

The Texas Space Grant Consortium is a component of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, which is administered by NASA.


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