NASA’s zero-gravity plane: How astronauts train for microgravity | Michelle Thaller

NASA’s zero-gravity plane: How astronauts train for microgravity | Michelle Thaller

ack, you had the question, how do we remove
gravity from the anti-gravity chambers that astronauts train in? And you’ve probably seen films of astronauts
in training, floating around in a closed chamber. And it does kind of look like we may have
something that can actually shield against gravity. Well, for one thing, I really wish we did
because just think about how useful that would be. Think about having, say, a construction site,
and you can remove all of the gravity. You could actually move things around really
easily. There’s so many applications for having some
sort of anti-gravity device, but we don’t have one. There is no way to shield astronauts here
on the earth from the We train astronauts by putting them up in an airplane and then
having the airplane fly very, very carefully on an arc to throw everybody up at just the
right rate so they’re floating. It may have actually happened to you. You may have been on an airplane, and the
airplane actually sort of arced around, and you felt yourself thrown up a little bit. So that’s actually what we do in a very controlled
way. We only can get about a minute’s worth of
weightlessness that way. The airplane flies in arc and then goes around
again and flies another one. So the astronauts train by doing this over,
and over, One of the really amazing applications of this was in the movie Apollo 13. If you look very carefully, it’s a very realistic
depiction of astronauts floating around in the weightlessness of space. And that’s because they really were weightless. They actually put movie sets inside this aircraft
and filmed one minute at a time. The footage of the astronauts floating around
the lunar module, for example. Now, this sort of training where one minute
you’re weightless, and then all of a sudden you’re not, and then you’re weightless again
has a bit of an effect on people’s stomach. And, in fact, the NASA nickname for this plane
is the Vomit Comet. It’s something that can actually make you
feel pretty sick to your stomach, but a lot of astronauts in training also find it really
fun. And I’ve heard it mentioned that there are
some pilots that are better than others at doing just the right arc. There are some pilots that as you fly, you’re
up against the ceiling, up against the floor, up against the ceiling. And then there are ones that get really, really
smooth so you have the longest possible time in weightlessness. And, in fact, I heard that the pilot that
was best at it would actually put a pencil in front of him as he began the arc to make
it feel like you were weightless. And then he would fly the plane around the
pencil, trying to keep that pencil in the same position as you went through the weightlessness
arc. So there’s no way we can shield from gravity. We only can train astronauts a minute at a
time in these aircraft. The other way we train them is by simulating
a weightless environment the best we can by using water, by using really, really big swimming
pools. At the Johnson Space Center– one of my favorite
places to go in all of NASA– there is a swimming pool, a pool so big that we actually have
an entire scale model of a space station underneath the water. The same size as the space station. We put astronauts in basically scuba gear. They have their helmets. There’s air being pumped through there. And they can float around and practice doing
spacewalks outside the space station in the water. And then all around them, there are actually
real scuba divers, ready to assist them to make sure everything’s going well. And I’ve had friends who have actually served
this way. They’ve actually been scuba divers that help
astronauts train. So, unfortunately, there’s no way to shield
from gravity here on the Earth. Gravity is of curvature of space and time. We have no way to manipulate that with our
current technology, so we have to fake it. Astronauts have to either be in aircraft that
are flying arcs or pretending to be weightless under the water,

36 thoughts on “NASA’s zero-gravity plane: How astronauts train for microgravity | Michelle Thaller”

  1. That was an awesome Big Think. Thank you. Hopefully those crazy billionaires will make space travel a common thing in the next couple of decades.

  2. Science lady is back. Why can't astronauts leave low earth orbit as they reportedly did one time in 1969, Michelle?

  3. The female version of Bill Nye > all paid to lie . There is no such thing called gravity but only density & buoyancy .

  4. I've been on a plane that dropped quite a bit in s storm and learned what the seat belt is really for. It not designed to keep you from going forward like a car seat belt it is designed to pull you down with the plane as is falls. This way you don't hit your head on the overhead compartments.

  5. What’s with all these moronic comments? Why don’t you people go to some alien conspiracy channel where you’ll feel right at home. 🙄

  6. The good doctor has already addressed flat earth nonsense. Look it up. Then watch the Netflix documentary Beyond the Curve and see two of your precious preachers show the earth is a spinning globe. "Interesting…" will be the tombstone inscription of your moronic movement.

  7. Yes space race finding out the interaction of highly induced chemicals under pressure like that queen song 😎

  8. In the Iss videos they wires of the harnesses are obvious…………plus the CGI items and the green screen………….


  10. This video is terrible. It says there is no way to remove gravity and mixes Newtonian and Einstein perspective creating a nonsense.Gravity is not a force, period. Newtonian perspective that it is a force breaks in free fall, that is why we are "weightless", so there is no force, which is what she implies.

    She is talking about the force we feel when we are in contact with the earth, which is the result of that curvature and we colliding in our path through spacetime.

  11. Didn't the nazis used to research gravity? isn't electro-magnitism and gravity almost the same just on a bigger scale? so as far as I know, they thought it has a specific frequency which u could neutralize if you knew(and could produce) the negative frequency

  12. I wonder, at what point on the trend line it becomes economical for orbital manufacturing/fabrication of Earthbound goods (buildings, equipment, etc.)?

  13. I am still puzzled by how space flight works.
    When you leave the earths atmosphere how can you steer with the nozzles burning fuel when it push against nothing.
    'An action creates an even reaction.'

  14. Aircraft used to mimic the experience of anti gravity by NASA in the early years was the C-131 Samaritan. It was followed by the KC-135 Stratotanker; then McDonnell Douglas C-9B; and recently the Boeing 727-200.

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