NASA’s Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program is accepting proposals from undergraduate teams across the country to fly their experiments on a unique agency airplane.

Since its inception in 1995, the program has offered the unique venue of NASA’s specially equipped KC-135 airplane to student researchers. Participation in the program will enable students to learn how scientific research conducted in micro-gravity differs from research conducted on Earth. Students also will have the opportunity to explore how the human body reacts to weightlessness.

Students, the next generation of explorers, scientists and engineers, will have the chance to float free and perform experiments in an environment usually reserved for space travelers.

The four-engine KC-135, a modified version of the standard U.S. Air Force tanker, is similar to the Boeing 707. Weightlessness is achieved by flying the plane in carefully choreographed maneuvers: climb at a 45-degree angle, “over the top” and then down at 45 degrees. The maneuver creates a weightless free-fall environment that lasts about 25 seconds. Each flight incorporates 30 of these parabola-shaped sequences.

The program provides a unique academic experience for students to successfully propose, design, fabricate, fly and evaluate a reduced gravity experiment of their choice over the course of a school year. The overall experience includes scientific research, hands-on experimental design, test operations and educational/public outreach activities.

The deadline for applications is Oct. 20. For information about the Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program on the Internet, visit: