Episode 2: Astronaut Training Prepares You to Live 200 Miles Above the Earth!

Our second episode is now available on Hulu! In this episode, I travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center to get an up close and personal look into how an Astronaut trains for a trip into space. We’ll watch a live dive in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab which is the largest indoor pool in the world! This is where astronauts train before they’re sent into outer space.  And then later, I get to take a ride on NASA’s famous Vomit Comet and practice floating like an Astronaut, eating like an astronaut, and even juggling under lunar gravity conditions. Check it out:

This episode is one of my favorites in the entire season because it highlights my favorite NASA student program. The microgravity research program offers undergrad and graduate students an opportunity to conduct research under weightless conditions. It was because of this program that I pursued Aerospace Engineering as an undergraduate, and it is honestly probably the most fun thing I’ve ever experienced.

To fly on NASA’s Weightless Wonder Aircraft, sometimes fondly referred to as the “Vomit Comet”, you must come up with an experiment to perform under microgravity conditions.  This is a very competitive program and those who are accepted typically come from Universities who apply to this program each year. Last week, I encouraged students from such Universities to tweet out their favorite weightless picture of themselves. Here are some of my favorites:

Thanks to teams from Dartmouth, University of Washington, West Virginia University, MIT, University of Central Florida, and University of North Florida for participating!

Recently, flat NASA budgets have put this program at risk, which is a terrible shame.  This program alone inspires so many students to pursue STEM careers and gives them hands-on engineering experience.  While it was rumored that NASA would not be accepting applications for this next year, it was recently announced that NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program is anticipating microgravity flights for next year.  The flights will take place between May and August of 2015.  Proposals are due by November 5th, 2014.  More info can be found at their Microgravity University website!

For more info about my experience floating like an Astronaut and the physics behind the Vomit Comet – check out the videos I did with my Physics Girl friend, Dianna Cowern:

Emily CalandrelliComment