[Press and Publications] Students Set for 'Out of this World' Experience

June 2001

No. 74

Four students from the University of Leicester have been selected from a Europe-wide competition to take part in a journey of a lifetime - and experience Zero G.

The students, representing 4 departments at the University, will take part in the ESA student parabolic flight campaign, at Bordeaux, France on JULY 17th.

30 teams from across Europe were chosen from approximately 200 applicants to design, construct and operate an experiment in simulated zero gravity.

The four chosen - the team is called Valerian Dreams (named after Leicester Rock Society Band) - from the University of Leicester are: Doug Robinson, from Newport/Wales who is studying Physics and Space Science, Patrick Holt from Neath/Wales - American Studies, Daniel Robinson from Hull - Geology and Liam Beeton from York - Archaeology.

Doug said: The University's contribution involves the reaction of various physiological and chemical mechanisms within a tobacco plant due to zero gravity, directly related to the amounts of Carbon Dioxide taken in and Water vapour and Oxygen given out.

This will be of valuable use in an enclosed environment such as the International Space Station and the next generation of human habitats, like Moon Stations.

The parabolic flight will take them from an altitude of 16,000 feet to a height of some 24,000 feet - experiencing Zero G for some 25 seconds.

Doug added: This is an unbelievable adventure, only a few hundred people have ever experienced weightlessness. It is a fantastic opportunity. On July 2, courtesy of RAF Henlow, we begin our training and are shaken rattled and rolled in preparation for our flight, in what is known in space circles as 'The Vomit Comet'.

We hope to try our hand at drinking floating water and throwing each other like paper aeroplanes, we'll see how long our experiment takes!

  • In parabolic flight, the aircraft is put into a sub-orbital trajectory that provides free-fall, or weightlessness. This weightless experience, other than the duration, is exactly that experienced by astronauts on orbital missions.

    Further Information can be found on the official ESA website:


    Note to newsdesk: Doug Robinson can be contacted on: dougi@another.com, Telephone 01482 807 611.

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    Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
    Last updated: 02 July 2001 10:34
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