NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program has selected seven Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, companies to participate in reduced-gravity test flights in early September. The companies will have the opportunity to test their newly developed hardware on an aircraft that simulates the weightless conditions of spaceflight. The flights will the first by NASA's program called Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training, known as FAST.
Testing new technologies in weightless conditions is an important step in making them available for applications in NASA space projects. An aircraft flying on a parabolic trajectory can create weightless conditions for up to 30 seconds at a time and simulate the reduced gravity conditions of the moon or Mars. This allows developers to test new technologies to ensure that they will work in space or, if they do not work during testing, to understand why.