First in Europe: Platform for Microgravity Research based on Aerobatic Flights: “Barcelona Zero-g Challenge” – Second Flights Campaign with the United Nations Office Support
Barcelona, November 16, 2011. Thanks to a Collaboration Agreement between the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), the Aeroclub Barcelona-Sabadell, and BAIE, a new microgravity platform has been set up in Barcelona aimed at researchers and students, to conduct experiments in microgravity conditions and to promote science and youngsters towards technical and scientific careers.
This is the first platform in Europe based on aerobatic aircrafts to obtain the microgravity conditions. First Flight Campaign took place in October 2010. And second one is ready to take off on Saturday, 19th of November 2011.
Thanks to this Collaboration Agreement, now small aerobatic aircraft (type CAP-10) can be used to perform the same parabolic manoeuvre as the ESA A300 or the NASA KC135, obtaining in this case, up to 8 s of microgravity, same order of the microgravity dropping towers. The advantage of this method is that it is quicker to access and much cheaper: less up to a factor of 1000 with respect to other parabolic platforms.
The new Platform is thus a complementary method adding to the already existing microgravity platforms, offering more degrees of freedom for researchers and students who now can choose which platforms is best suited for their experiment depending on the time of sustained microgravity needed and their available budget.
The platform is coordinated by Prof. Antoni Pérez-Poch, of the UPC - CRAE (Centre for Research in Aeronautics and Space – Technical University of Catalonia). Research papers to ascertain the feasibility of this platform were published and the Collaboration Agreement among the three Institutions (UPC, Aeroclub Barcelona-Sabadell and BAIE) was signed up in December 2009. The first call for experiments was launched on July 2010 and quickly raised interest.
This second Flight Campaign counts with the participation of an international team composed of students and researchers coming from Spain, Canada, Uruguay and Austria that will conduct research on cardiovascular changes caused by cognitive stress under microgravity conditions. Students are Mr. David Ferrer (Spain and Toulouse), Ms. Victoria Alonso (University of Uruguai) and Mr. Jeffrey Osborne (Queen's University of Kingston, Ontario), lead by Professor Nandu Goswami, of the Graz University Medical Physiology Centre (Austria).
Research experiment IRIS (Image Reversal in Space) participant of the first Flight Campaign, has been selected during 2011 to fly to the International Space Station (ISS).
This Second Campaign has a remarkably international participation. Apart from the international research teams, the Barcelona Zero-g Challenge counts with the support of the United Nations Office through the Space Generation Advisory Council, advisory body of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, as well as from the European Low-Gravity Research Association (ELGRA).
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
UPC Barcelona Tech – CREA
ELGRA - European Low-Gravity Research Association