Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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AEM Students Participate in NASA's Reduced Gravity Flight Opportunities Program


C-9B Flight Trajectory: diagram shows a typical zero-g maneuver: click on image for more details

Diagram Showing Typical Zero-G Maneuver

For the a number of years, we have had two AEM student teams from the University of Minnesota , one group in fluids area and the other group in the solids/materials area, participate in the Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program sponsored by NASA's Johnson Space Center. Students design experiments to be performed on the NASA KC-135 aircraft, which is used for astronaut training, as well as experiments, which require short periods of reduced gravity. The students typically travel to Texas to undergo training around March or April each year, for a nine-day period. During this time period, they perform their in flight experiments while the aircraft is performing maneuvers which produce microgravity for about 30 seconds. The flight path of the aircraft is like a roller coaster and student will experience relatively large "g" forces as well as reduced gravity. Students that have participated in the program the last several years have found the ride very exciting and the experience of a lifetime. Yearly projects of the students are listed below.

NASA 931 (KC-135A) the last "A" model was retired from service October 31, 2004. It began its service on November 22nd 1963 with the United States Air Force after being manufactured at the Boeing, Seattle, WA facility. Click here for the History of KC-135A Reduced Gravity Research Program. Reduced gravity participating student teams will now fly on NASA's C-9.

This experience is now available commercially. Zero Gravity Corp is now offering Weightless Flights aboard a specially modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, for a substantial fee.

Projects

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2006-2007 Reduced Gravity Project

Fluid Mechanics: Effect of microgravity on cavitating flows

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2005-2006 Reduced Gravity Project

Fluid Mechanics: Microgravity Study of Gas Vortex Rings in a Liquid
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2004-2005 Reduced Gravity Projects

These teams never got to fly because the NASA transition from a KC-135 to a C-9 aircraft was completed behind schedule.

Fluid Mechanics: Bubbles
Solid Mechanics: Solidification of Alloys
Team Leader in cockpit

2003-2004 Reduced Gravity Projects

Fluid Mechanics: Study of Droplets Coalescence Criteria of a Liquid/Liquid Interface In Micro- and Macro-Gravity
Solid Mechanics: Effects of Microgravity on Random Close Packing Arrangements -- Part III
Microgravity Projects

2002-2003 Reduced Gravity Projects

Fluid Mechanics: Study of Droplets Coalescence Criteria of a Liquid/Liquid Interface In Micro- and Macro-Gravity
Solid Mechanics: Effects of Microgravity on Random Close Packing Arrangements -- Part II
AEM Students on KC-135 flight

2001-2002 Reduced Gravity Projects

Fluid Mechanics: Study of Pinch-Off of Liquid-Liquid Flows in Micro-and Macro-Gravity Conditions
Solid Mechanics: Effects of Microgravity on Random Close Packing Arrangements
AEM team aboard KC-135

2000-2001 Reduced Gravity Projects

Fluid Mechanics: Study of Pinch-Off and Reconnection of Liquid-Liquid Flows in Micro- and Macro-Gravity
Solid Mechanics: Nitinol Vibration Damping in Microgravity

Financial sponsors of the student teams are: The AEM Richard and Shirely DeLeo Scholarship & Engineering Fund; the AEM Alumni Program Support Fund; The Minnesota Space Grant Consortium; and the University Undergraduate Research Opportunities.


Last Modified: 2012-11-21 at 12:50:48 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation