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Ellington and NASA Team Up Again

Revised Plans for Terminal B Renovation

June 1, 2011

  © Houston Airport System

A wide variety of aircraft types can be found at Ellington Airport.

Ellington Airport is once again the site for cutting edge technology testing, as scientists with NASA look to explore the effects that zero gravity may have on certain aircraft payloads.

Starting in mid-July, testing at Ellington Airport will involve 14 specific types of aircraft payloads and the effects that weightlessness may have on those individual payloads.

The cargo will be taken up in a Boeing 727-200F aircraft, which is specifically designed for reduced gravity operations. The goal is to learn more about which types of aircraft may be necessary in the future transportation of certain high-value payloads, carrying research and technology equipment.

“NASA is able to align research and technology payloads with commercially available flights that will benefit America’s future in space,” says Bobby Braun, NASA chief technologist. “We are meeting our future mission needs, while infusing new knowledge and capabilities into our nation’s universities, laboratories and space industry.”

The testing at Ellington Airport is expected to last one full week and will involve the Boeing 727 aircraft known as the “Zero G.” This plane is a three-engine aircraft that’s designed to climb rapidly from 24,000 to 25,000 feet. During the pull-up, passengers and/or cargo feel the pull of 1.8 g. Once the aircraft begins to arch over into a descent, a feeling of weightlessness is experienced for the next 20 to 30 seconds.

Several aerospace companies and universities would like to find out what impact, if any, that zero gravity conditions have on certain payloads, and those companies were encouraged to apply for participation within the program to be carried out at Ellington Airport.

The July flights are part of NASA’s “Flight Opportunities Program,” which is designed to partner the federal government and private sector in further exploring commercial opportunities in space. Ellington Airport has played a key support role in a host of NASA testing efforts, with the focus ranging from space exploration to Hurricane data collection.
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