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  • "A New Educational Initiative ESA : A Parabolic Flight Campaign for Students’’

    Paper ID



    • Roger F. Elaerts
    • Wubbo Ockels
    • Philippe Willekens
    • Vladimir Pletser


    Head of Public Relations, ESA HQ






    "You don't have to go into space to do experiments in weightlessness or microgravity. By precisely mapping out a bell-shaped trajectory in an aircraft, 20 seconds of weightlessness can be created. Manoeuvrings of this kind are known as parabolic flights." explained the Daily Telegraph on 14 December 1994, right after ESA completed its 10th year of Parabolic Flights with a campaign dedicated to Education. The Caravelle "zero-G", provided by the French Space Agency (CNES) is used by scientists and engineers to prepare and test experiments proposed for orbital flights. Covering several periods of 20 seconds during a two-hours flight, the aircraft offers a cheap and accessible means of experiencing the microgravity environment. On the occasion of the European Week for Scientific Culture organised in November 1994, the European Space Agency and the Commission of the European Union, offered to students coming from several European universities, the opportunity to suggest and carry out an experiment on-board the aircraft, using their imagination and the support of experts from several space industries and institutions. This paper describes the Educative and Communication aspects of this experience which was a real success, in terms of quantity and quality of the students proposals, as well as the coverage of the event by the European Media. A second Campaign is scheduled in November 1995. The applications have been reviewed and evaluated by an appointed jury which commented the proposals as "being of high quantity and quality".