Parabola flight

as parabola flight (English. parabolic flight) a special flight maneuver is designated, with which the airplane describes a parabola opened to the earth's surface, whose vertex shows upward. The purpose of this maneuver is the production of a condition of weightlessness (English. microgravity) (see also free case). Several parabolas (about 5 to 30) are mostly flown one behind the other.

Weightlessness during a parabola flight
when introducing the climb (as well as when intercepting the dive) prevails in the airplane the almost double force of gravity.

Table of contents


the machine flies first horizontal at full speed. It goes then with a flight path angle from 45° in a 1. Phase into a climb over. During this phase prevails in the machine approx. doubled acceleration due to gravity.

Phases of a parabola flight

in the 2.Phase, the transit ion phase, the engines are throttled, so that the thrust adjusts only air resistance. Duration approx. 5 seconds. In this phase one can feel a clear force of gravity acceptance (free case).

In the 3. Phase, the actual weightlessness phase, those in the English linguistic area with microgravity more exactly, continues to rise the machine is described, by following a trajectory parabola. It reaches about 23 at the highest point, dependent on the type of aircraft - 28000 ft. The length of time of weightlessness lasts on the average approx. 25 seconds. During the test flights with the Concorde parabola flights were likewise accomplished, howthe time of weightlessness far over one minute lay.

The pilot steers in the 4. Phase the machine so that it a flight path angle of approx. -45° reaches and leads thereby the parabola flight out. The machine becomes now by raising of the engines and pulling the elevatoragain intercepted. Here prevail again approx. 2 G. This procedure takes 20 seconds. After approximately. Then the next parabola flight can begin 2 minutes.

medical effect

by acceleration and the steep flights do not send eyes and organs of equilibrium information to the brain, those contentwisefit. Some humans react to the fast force of gravity changes with a parabola flight with nausea or nausea (English. motion sickness). Therefore before such a flight Antiemetika are given. Because of the unpleasant symptoms with many participants the airplanes, with which such flights are accomplished, carry also occasionallythe pointed name “Kotzbomber” (English. vomit comet).

Many participants feel weightlessness however as pleasant, why such flights are also very popular.


  • testing of devices, which are to work under weightlessness (for instance in space). Particularly flames, liquids and gases behave underweightless conditions partly completely differently than on the ground.
  • Execution more scientifically (above all aero and more hydrodynamically as well as material-scientific and chemical) experiments under weightless conditions.
  • Training of spacemen. Before the space flight the spacemen with weightlessness must be made familiar and learned to deal with it.
  • Production of special effects for film-creative: Many of the space scenes from the film Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks were turned during several parabola flights, in order to copy weightlessness dominant in space.
  • Also for normal citizens (in Star City with Moscow about) parabola flights are offered -- however at high prices.
  • Studentcan participate and have with the ESA in that annually instead of finding student campaign the chance to participate with their own experiment on a parabola flight.

suitable types of aircraft

general can be flown with practically each airplane parabolas. Are used however usually easily modifiedmilitary transporters (a Il-76 at the Russian space agency, a KC-135, a C9-B at NASA) or civilian airplanes (with the ESA an airbus A300). A far interior, which offers enough place for experiments and for free floating, is favourable.

Also with small aircrafts (evenGliders) parabola flights can be accomplished. Here however only few seconds of weightlessness can be achieved. Also free floating is not possible due to the necessary place. The parabola flight here essentially serves for the fun. Parabola flights with small aircrafts are substantially more economical than with large airplanes.

Work on []


  • Novespace, Parabolic Flights and Microgravity, User´s manual 7. July 2004
  • Novespace, Parabolic Flight Campaign with A300 ZERO-G, User's manual 5. July 1999

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