My ZeroG adventure
by Gregory N. Cecil
|I’ve jumped off things, jumped out of planes 4,600 meters up, swam underwater, rode rollercoasters, and more, but nothing I’ve experienced can come close to describe what it’s like to float in microgravity.|
Besides having fun floating, we had three experiments to do during our flight. One was to toss around a toy spaceship exploring the action/reaction phenomenon described in Newton’s Laws of Gravity. Our next experiment was to observe what less dense liquids do inside a bottle with more dense liquids during microgravity. We used oil and water in the bottle. The less dense liquid would eventually go to the middle of the bottle. Our last experiment was to open an actual International Space Station medical kit, put on gloves, and bandage an imaginary cut on a patient’s arm. Sounds easy, eh? Well, it isn’t. As I was putting on the gloves, I kept tumbling round and round. I got as far as wiping the fake wound with alcohol before we ran out of time.
Microgravity would last for about 30 seconds and then gravity would suddenly return. The coaches would warn us to get our feet pointed down, but many times you couldn’t do it in time. That’s when you would be on the ceiling weighing nothing and then a microsecond later you weigh 110 kilograms (245 lbs) and plummet to the floor in a heap. Gravity would grab us fat boys with a vengeance. I hit the floor pretty hard at times. We would then start to climb the parabola again and I would end up lying there weighing 1.8 times my weight (200 kg, 441 lbs) until the next episode of microgravity. The next day I was pretty sore but I bore it with pride.
This was the nearest I’ll ever get to being an astronaut. I can now cross this experience off my “bucket list”. As our primary instructor Bob Ward liked to say, “Onward, upward, downward, repeat…”