Four Kingston University engineering students are getting a taste of life in space taking part in a European Space Agency (ESA) flight that recreates the weightlessness felt by astronauts once they leave the Earth’s atmosphere. The four have been finding out what it is like to float in zero gravity aboard a special ESA aircraft in Bordeaux, France while carrying out experiments on a lightweight solar kite being developed by Kingston researchers.
The team is one of 30 from across Europe being given the chance to experience zero gravity on a specially converted Airbus. Students will find out just what it feels like to work in space as the plane climbs and dives in a series of manoeuvres that release the Earth’s gravitational pull, known as a parabolic flight.
After undergoing ground training and safety checks, the four Kingston students are taking it in turns to fly on the aircraft and test out the prototype solar kite. The brainchild of University astronautics experts, the kite has been designed to take pictures from space. Its creators hope it will be able to be launched by rocket and deployed in orbit. Kingston’s student team is testing out the moving parts that will enable the kite to unfold once it gets into space.
Michael Williams | alfa
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