Flight group #1 was ready to roll this morning after drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy, light breakfast. After the 7:45 am meeting with the Reduced Gravity Office (RGO) staff, it was time for Cameron, Nick and Ansley to get in their flight suits and meet in the briefing room for flight preparation. Anti-nausia medication was injected in our arms (dosage decided by weight) and caused most flyers to “trip out.” The side effects were very strong for Cameron and Ansley with intense dry mouth, dizziness and lack of eye focus. All of our eyes were heavily dilated, although Nick won the largest pupil to iris ratio.
Group #1 flyers walked out to the plane in a line to allow for photos and video. We sat in conventional aircraft seats during take-off and then walked into the mid fuselage to our experiments and had about 10 minutes to set up our experiment and mentally prepare for our first parabola.
For each microgravity portion of the flight, the plane pulls 2g’s (twice the acceleration of gravity) before. We all sat with our backs against the fuselage wall and kept our heads still to prevent motion sickness. We took the first two parabolas to adjust to the microgravity environment. When attempting to stand up, even a slight force from your feet on the ground will launch your body toward the ceiling. It definitely takes a bit of time to adjust to the atmosphere.
On the third parabola we began our test and alternated spinning a container and then loading a new container. Cameron and Nick worked the gloves to manipulate the boxes while Ansley worked the speed controls. We were able to test two boxes for six parabolas before the plane turned back due to technical concerns with the generators.
Once on ground, the flyers had a debrief meeting where it was announced that a second flight would be attempted after resolving the generator issue. The group #1 flyers took a lunch break before being re-medicated at a lower dose for the second flight. Procedure was repeated for the second flight, but we were able to test only one container before the plane turned around due to the same generator issue.
The mechanics and reduced gravity crew plan to spend all afternoon and evening fixing the plane to get ready to fly tomorrow morning. We were disappointed we didn’t get to finish our flights, but it was great to experience microgravity, however briefly. We were able to complete one of three planned data sets, so we still count the day as a success! Both short flights were “No Kills,” meaning no one got sick.