First zero-gravity plane launches from Swiss soil

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First zero-gravity plane launches from Swiss soil
Swiss researchers aboard plane. Photo: University of Zurich

Scientists from two Swiss universities on Tuesday launched zero-gravity experiments in a specially equipped Airbus A310 plane that took off from Dübendorf air base in the canton of Zurich.


The three-hour test flight, in a zone over the northern Mediterranean, allowed researchers from the University of Zurich and the Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne (EPFL) to conduct tests in a weightless atmosphere.

The plane flew elliptical or parabolic flight patterns, alternating steep ascents and steep descents, at a high altitude to create brief periods of “zero-gravity” sensation, the University of Zurich said in a news release.

The flight marked the first of its type from Swiss soil.

Researchers from the University of Zurich (UZH) continued research begun in the International Space Station on the effect of weightlessness on the cells of the human immune system, among other experiments.

The plane, which made its first flight in May this year, was operated by Novespace, a subsidiary of the French national centre for space studies (CNES).

The Swiss Air Force was also involved in supporting the experiments, UZH said.

The university said the test project was privately financed by sponsors and did not involve government funding.



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