Encyclopedia of Bioastronautics

Living Edition
| Editors: Laurence R. Young, Jeffrey P. Sutton

Parabolic Flight

Living reference work entry

Later version available View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-10152-1_62-1

“Gravity is a habit that is hard to shake off.” – Terry Pratchett



Short-term weightlessness created by allowing an airplane to perform a “free fall” during a parabolic trajectory.

Weightlessness can be defined as absence of any external mechanical contact forces. Accordingly, an object in a free-fall condition is weightless when exclusively affected by gravity. Therefore, short-term real weightlessness is created within Earth’s atmosphere by flying an airplane along a parabolic trajectory correcting for air resistance. The parabolic flight platform has been used to study immediate effects of weightlessness on human physiology, physical, or combustion science, as well as astronaut training since the late 1950s (Haber and Haber 2009). Depending on the aircraft and flight pattern, anywhere from 10 to 45 s of weightlessness is generated, which is preceded and followed by an acceleration and a...


Parabolic flight Weightlessness Microgravity Zero-G Flight pattern Physiology 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryUniversity of California, San Diego, Altman Clinical and Translational Research InstituteLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniversity of California, San Diego, Altman Clinical and Translational Research InstituteLa JollaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Inessa Kozlovskaya
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sensory Motor Physiology and CountermeasuresInstitute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia