You don’t have to go to space to know how an astronaut breaks free from Earth’s gravity. It can be done “only” with a jet plane, in perfect condition for parabolic flights, stomach in good condition, no vomiting.
Parabolic flight allows you to experience microgravity similar to what exists in space. The jet will soar until it reaches a safe height in the sky. Then it starts flying in a zigzag pattern like going up and down various mountains.
The adventure begins as soon as it leaves the ground, as the jet takes off at a 47-degree angle relative to the Earth’s surface. To give you an idea, a commercial flight takeoff should never exceed a 20 degree incline.
At the end of the first ascent, you can feel microgravity for a few seconds. Halfway down the descent, the opposite happens: everything gets too much, and it’s like we’re nailed to the ground. Then the jet begins a new ascent, and we have a few more seconds of weightlessness, followed by a new period of hypergravity.
Parabolic flights have begun to be used to research microgravity—for example, it’s cheaper than sending research to a space station. Today, there are companies that do this kind of work travel Just for fun.
It’s not easy on the pocket: a trip like this on a modified Boeing 727 costs at least US$5,000 per person.
All passengers are required to take immunizations before departure. Those who have strong stomachs and enjoy traveling say that it feels like being in a deep pool, only without water. It is also difficult to stand in the absence of gravity: usually, people float as if they are sitting on invisible chairs.
Sources: Maurizio Pacini Brando, aeronautical engineer at the Technological Institute of Aeronautics (ITA) in São José do Campos and Thais Russomano (PhD Professor in Space Physiology and King’s College London-King’s College Coordinator), Guinness World Records and Embraer, Airbus and Zero G companies’ websites.
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