May 19, 2009

NASA picks gravity tech projects

The U.S. space agency says it has selected 21 technology demonstration projects to fly on reduced gravity aircraft flights this summer.

The projects will be tested during the week of Aug. 10 in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training program known as FAST.

The FAST program is designed to enable new technologies to be incorporated into NASA's flight programs and other commercial space applications, officials said. FAST provides an opportunity to demonstrate whether emerging technologies will perform as expected in the zero-gravity environment of Earth orbit or the reduced gravity environment of the moon or Mars.

The space agency said the projects will demonstrate new technologies from U.S. companies, universities and NASA laboratories located in 13 states. The projects will address such issues as lunar dust processing, handling and mitigation and validation of variable gravity phenomena.

NASA will provide the reduced-gravity flight time for the tests at no cost to the selected project teams, however the teams will be responsible for all other expenses.

A list of the selected projects is available at http://ipp.nasa.gov/fast_projects.htm