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NASA has selected 21 technology demonstration projects to fly on reduced gravity aircraft flights during the week of Aug. 10 through its Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training program known as FAST.
Designed to enable new technologies to be incorporated into NASA’s flight programs and other commercial space applications, 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 selected projects will demonstrate new technologies from U.S. companies, universities and NASA laboratories located in 13 states.
These gravity conditions can be simulated for periods of 20 to 30 seconds at a time in an aircraft flying repeated parabolic trajectories. The FAST program can reduce the risk of using new technologies during space missions by providing those technologies with an opportunity to prove how they work in a reduced-gravity environment or understand why they do not work.
The projects will address important issues such as lunar regolith processing and handling, lunar dust mitigation, demonstration of new mechanisms, manufacturing in space, and validation of variable gravity phenomena. NASA’s Innovative Partnership Program prioritized technology needs and selection of these projects through close collaboration with the agency’s mission directorates.