No, you don’t have to even travel outside the planet’s atmosphere to experience near-total weightlessness and buoyancy. It is possible to do this with – only – a jet plane in perfect condition for parabolic flights and prepared in perfect condition so you don’t vomit.
A parabola flight allows you to experience microgravity similar to that of space. The jet plane takes off until it reaches a safe height in the sky. Then it begins to fly in a zigzag pattern, as if heading up and down several mountains.
The adventure begins when the plane takes off at an inclination of 47 degrees relative to the surface of the Earth. To give you an idea, the take-off of a commercial flight does not exceed 20 degrees miles.
At the end of the first climb, you can feel the microgravity that only lasts 20 seconds. When the plane is at half the landing height, the opposite of weightlessness occurs: everything becomes much heavier, and it is difficult to get off the ground. Then the plane begins to climb again, and everyone is back to feeling weightless for another 20 seconds after 40 seconds of pure gravity.
Parabolic flights are beginning to be used in microgravity research – this can be cheaper than sending the research to a space station, for example. Today, there are companies that take these types of trips for fun.
Before takeoff, passengers are usually required to take seasickness medication. Those who have a strong stomach and enjoy the ride say the feeling is to be in a deep pool, but without water.
It is also difficult to stand upright in weightlessness: people usually float as if they were sitting on invisible chairs.
How to achieve microgravity on Earth
Consulting: Mauricio Pazini Brandão, Flight Engineer at the Technological Institute of Aeronautics (ITA), São José de Campos (SP) and Tice Rossumano (PhD Professor in Aerospace Physiology – King’s College London and Coordinator of the Center for Microgravity at PUC-RS). Sources: Guinness World Records, Embraer, Airbus, Zero G websites.
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