The program, managed by the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, provides aspiring explorers a chance to propose, design and fabricate a reduced gravity experiment. Selected teams will get to test and evaluate their experiment aboard a microgravity aircraft. The specially modified jet aircraft flies approximately 30 roller-coaster-like climbs and dips to produce periods of micro and hyper-gravity, ranging from weightlessness to three times the force of Earth's gravity.
"This project gives students a head start in preparing for future ventures by allowing them to do hands-on research and engineering in a truly reduced gravity laboratory," Program Manager Douglas Goforth said.
Interested teams also should submit a letter of intent by Sept. 22. This step is optional, but serves as an introductory notice that a team plans to submit a proposal for the competition. All applicants must be U.S. citizens. Full-time students must be at least 18 years old.
NASA will announce the selected participants on Dec. 8. The actual flights will take place in summer 2011. Selected teams may invite a full-time, accredited journalist to fly with them and document the experiment and gravity-defying experience.
With this program, NASA continues its tradition of investing in the nation's education programs with the goal of strengthening the future workforce.
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