(KRON) — The hottest ticket in town is 30,000 feet up.
A new anti-gravity attraction is taking off in the Bay Area, letting people feel weightlessness just like what astronauts in space experience.
KRON4’s Technology Reporter Gabe Slate explains how it works, how you can get aboard, and how a local tech company has been using it to innovate a new product.
If you want to experience anti-gravity, the feeling of weightlessness, but you don’t want to go to all the trouble of becoming an astronaut, there is a way.
Zero-G offers the ultimate attraction.
They take regular people up in their plane and recreate the zero-gravity experience allowing their passengers to float like the astronauts do in space.
“We fly in a parabolic arch, so up about…45 degrees, and right before, we push over the top,” Zero Gravity Corporation CEO Terese Brewster said. “You’re going to feel weightlessness. You’re going to start floating. And then that continues as we come over the top and down for almost 30 seconds.”
During the ride, the plane goes through 15 parabolic arches consecutively. That’s 15 times.
The people onboard will go weightless for about 20 to 30 seconds.
“It doesn’t feel like floating in a pool,” Brewster said. “It doesn’t feel like skydiving. You have to experience it to know what it’s like.”
After suiting up and going through a half-hour briefing, passengers are escorted on to the Zero-G plane which is a modified 727.
Inside, most of the fuselage is hollowed out and padded for the main attraction.
When the right altitude is reached, the riders move into the open space and wait for the magic to begin.
As soon as the weightlessness took effect, laughter and cheering erupted throughout the plane.
Instantly, it was like everyone on board was a kid again.
“It’s unlike any experience you have ever had, almost like learning to walk again,” Brewster said.
And learning to walk on the ceiling, to fly, do a backflip with just a flick of a toe.
The Zero-G crew tries to enhance the experience with various gimmicks like bringing out water and candy.
“It was fun, ate it up, did not want it to end, like nothing I felt before,” one passenger said.
Besides offering these “fun flights” to the average Joe, the Zero-G aircraft can transform into a lab.
Their plane is often used by researchers who need to simulate space environments.
“There is no way to simulate zero gravity on earth,” said Ron Stephens, who is with the Research and Development department with Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard. “You can put it upside down. You can put it on its side, Only Zero-G can prove whether this works in Zero-G.”
HP recently used the Zero-G airborne lab to help design a customized printer for NASA to use in the International Space Station.
You would think they are all digital up there, but the astronauts print out about 1,000 sheets of paper a month.
ZERO-G FLIGHTS –
HP ENVY ISS SPACE PRINTER –
UPCOMING FLIGHTS –
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How ANTI – GRAVITY Works-
Aboard our specially modified Boeing 727, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic maneuvers known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic maneuvers which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G’s passengers experience true weightlessness.
Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONE flies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begin to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45° to the horizon reaching an altitude of 32,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next, the plane is “pushed over” to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds, everything in the plane is weightless. Next, a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilize on the aircraft floor. This maneuver is repeated 15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.
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