1. Press Release #J04-051
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 15:22:10 -0500
Subject: Press Release #J04-051
October 25, 2004
Johnson Space Center, Houston
NASA’S FIFTH ‘WEIGHTLESS WONDER’ TO BE RETIRED
After a lifetime of ups and downs – 34,700 ups and downs to be exact – NASA’s last
KC-135 aircraft, the “Weightless Wonder V,” will be retired Oct. 29.
The aircraft, the last operational KC-135A in the world, makes its final flight that
day. It will be replaced by the "Weightless Wonder VI," a C-9 aircraft
acquired by NASA from the Navy to begin reduced gravity flights next year.
News media are invited to watch the KC-135A, designated NASA 931, as it returns from
its final operational flight at 11 a.m. CDT, Friday, Oct. 29, to Ellington Field. The
aircraft's pilots and unique support crew will be available for interviews.
To attend the event, or to arrange phone interviews, contact the Johnson Space Center
Newsroom at (281) 483-5111 by 5 p.m. CDT Thursday, Oct. 28.
KC-135A aircraft were used by the military for cargo and refueling. However, the NASA
aircraft was modified for its special role. During nine years at Ellington, it has
accumulated almost 2,000 hours of flight time, creating almost 200 hours of
weightlessness, 20 seconds at a time.
The reduced-gravity environment is created by flying parabolic arcs – steep climbs
and dives – to produce the 20 to 25 seconds of weightlessness. The flight maneuvers
can be adapted to provide longer periods of simulated lunar gravity, one-sixth that
of Earth, and Martian gravity, one-third that of Earth.
NASA's Reduced Gravity Program began in 1957 at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. It
investigates physiological and hardware reactions to operating in weightlessness. The
operations moved to NASA and Houston in 1973. Including all aircraft used throughout
the program at JSC so far, a total of almost 93,000 parabolas have been flown.
More than 2,000 college students have flown aboard the aircraft through the Reduced
Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program. They are provided an opportunity to
design and conduct their own experiments in weightlessness.
In addition to its primary use as the "Weightless Wonder," NASA 931 also
has helped move the Space Shuttle fleet across the country, flying as an advance
scout ahead of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 747 jet. It also has been used to
transport many critical space hardware items, and has been on standby as a personnel
transport in the event of Shuttle abort landings. NASA 931 played a key role as a
transport during the Columbia accident recovery.
The new C-9 aircraft will be designated NASA 932. It is now undergoing modifications
to prepare for service as the next "Weightless Wonder."
Video of NASA 931 and highlights from its flights will air on the NASA Television
Video File at 11 a.m. CDT Oct. 29.
NASA TV is available on the Internet and via satellite in the continental U.S. on
AMC-6, Transponder 9C, C-Band, at 72 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 3880.0
MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is monaural at 6.80 MHz. In Alaska and
Hawaii, NASA TV is available on AMC-7, Transponder 18C, C-Band, at 137 degrees west
longitude. The frequency is 4060.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is
monaural at 6.80 MHz.
For more information about NASA’s Reduced Gravity Program, visit:
I have always wondered if I would lose it and blow chunks on the vomit comet