NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected three University of Central Florida cutting-edge space technology projects for flights.
The UCF projects were among 24 NASA chose for its program this month. NASA will pay for all projects to fly on a suborbital rocket, high-altitude balloon or on a parabolic airplane.
UCF Associate Professor of Physics Joshua Colwell submitted three proposals to NASA, which selected all three. Two experiments will fly on a suborbital rocket and one will fly on parabolic airplane flight, which provide brief periods of weightlessness. Several UCF students and graduates are working on the projects.
“Our team of student and professional engineers has been doing amazing work developing several payloads for flight, so it is wonderful to see that hard work rewarded by this opportunity from NASA for our experiments to fly on both rockets and parabolic airplane flights,” Colwell said. He also is the director of the new Center for Microgravity Research and Education and interim assistant director of the Florida Space Institute at UCF.
The experiments will provide valuable information for trips to the moon or asteroids. The projects focus on determining how the surface of these objects would respond to the kinds of impacts that result from manned or unmanned spacecraft activity. This would help manage dust hazards during future explorations. .
“NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program leverages investment in commercially available vehicles and platforms to enable new technology discoveries,” said Michael Gazarik, director of the NASA’s Space Technology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These flights enable researchers to demonstrate the viability of their technologies while taking advantage of American commercial access to near space.”
NASA manages the Flight Opportunities Program manifest – matching payloads with flights – and will pay for payload integration and flight costs for the selected payloads. No funds are provided for the development of these payloads. Other suborbital-flight vendors on contract to NASA will provide flights after they have successfully flown their qualifying vehicles.
The Flight Opportunities Program is managed at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages the payload activities for the program.
For more information on the Flight Opportunities Program, visit: https://flightopportunities.nasa.gov/technologies/.