NASA is looking for a few adventurous students, willing to test their science experiments, while floating aboard the agency’s famous “Weightless Wonder” aircraft.

The Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, annually gives undergraduate student teams the opportunity to research, design, fabricate, fly and evaluate a reduced gravity experiment. The student teams follow much the same path as scientists who develop experiments that fly in space.

The teams test their designs during a roller coaster-like ride that produces brief periods of microgravity, similar to what astronauts experience during spaceflight. A NASA C-9 aircraft, the military version of a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 jet airliner, flies a series of carefully choreographed maneuvers to achieve the weightless effect. The “hill climbs and freefalls” create weightlessness for 25 seconds. Students will experience how the human body reacts during the 30-freefall periods during each flight.

Student teams have until Oct. 20, 2004, to send their proposals to NASA for evaluation on technical merit, safety, and an outreach plan. Selections will be announced Dec. 6, 2004, with flights beginning in the spring of 2005. Each team will have the opportunity to choose a journalist to fly with them and document their experience.

For information about the Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program on the Web, visit:

For information about NASA education programs on the Internet, visit:

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