Parabolic Flights

Airbus A310 Zero-G

 

The Swiss Parabolic Flights

Flown with the Airbus A310 ZERO-G, the Swiss Parabolic Flights are a unique platform for scientific research and industrial experiments in zero gravity, starting from Dübendorf Airfield.

Since 2015, four parabolic flight campaigns with more than 30 research projects on board have already been successfully carried out, and more flights are planned.

The utilization concept of the Swiss Parabolic Flights - shared use by universities, companies, and private individuals - is unique in Europe to date and offers a significant competitive advantage for Switzerland: The parabolic flights provide science and industry with cost-effective access to research and R&D projects in microgravity.

The flights are organized by the UZH space Hub together with the Swiss SkyLab Foundation, a non-commercial and non-profit scientific foundation. 

 

Parabolic Flights - important research and test platform for science, industry and society

Parabolic flights are the only manned research platform in weightlessness, through which scientists can conduct their experiments by themselves. After thousands of experiments in the last decades, parabolic flights are the backbone of microgravity and spaceflight research, and technology development worldwide. For instance, in the weightlessness of a parabolic flight, equipment can be tested that should later on be used in Satellites or on Space Stations.

 While big agencies such as the European Space Agency (ESA) are conducting “large scale” flight campaigns, The Swiss Parabolic Flights are filling a gap at the level of “small scale“ parabolic flights with low costs, simple access and rapid integrations times and in the scientific and technical environment of the facilities at Dübendorf airport and the University labs nearby. Scientists from Switzerland are using the parabolic flight platform in Dübendorf for initial, first and preliminary experiments, often before they apply for large scale projects at ESA, Horizon 2020 or the SNF. The Swiss Parabolic Flights shall contribute to the advancement of Swiss capabilities and, in particular, they shall allow for increasing key technological competences and building up knowledge in Switzerland with regard to microgravity experiments. See a full list of the conducted experiments below. 

Thanks to the results and experience generated through their participation in Swiss Parabolic Flights in the past, scientists from Switzerland have applied successfully for competitive ESA funds. Furthermore, results from parabolic flight experiments have advanced product development and testing for various Swiss companies. Finally, parabolic flights are a unique educational tool to inspire students and young scientists for space sciences and technology.

Are you interested in using the Swiss Parabolic Flights for your research or tests? Contact us

 

How the Swiss Parabolic Flights are funded

The Swiss SkyLab foundation – as a non-commercial and non-profit scientific foundation according to federal law and working in the frame of the innovation cluster space and aviation of the University of Zurich (UZH Space Hub) – has introduced a unique funding model for the microgravity research flights: the airplane including staff is chartered by the foundation, and the costs are not covered by major space agencies, but shared by industry, academia and private participants. This has succeeded in significantly reducing the costs for academia.

 

The flight maneuver with the Airbus A310 ZERO-G

During a parabolic flight maneuver, an aircraft is weightless by flying on a “Keplerian trajectory”, which is described as an unpropelled body in an ideally frictionless space subjected to a centrally symmetric gravitational field. During this free-fall trajectory, the resultant of all forces acting on the aircraft other than gravity is nulled. In relation to sustainability, the flights are CO2-compensated. 

 

Watch here a movie about the 4th Swiss Parabolic Flight in 2020

Watch more videos about the 4th Swiss Parabolic Flight 2020

  • The challenges to perform a parabolic flight in times of corona (German) link
  • Cardiac massage in zero gravity: Science on the 4th Swiss Parabolic Flight link
  • Adaption of cells to weightlessness: Science on the 4th Swiss Parabolic Flight (German) link
  • How can planets form from dust? Science on the 4th Swiss Parabolic Flight link
  • When 20 seconds decide everything: Science on the 4th Swiss Parabolic Flight (German) link 

 

List of experiments on the Swiss Parabolic Flight Program

 

Download List as PDF (PDF, 133 KB)

1st Swiss Parabolic Flight Campaign, September 2015

Cavitation bubbles in variable gravity  Dr. Mohamed Farhad and Dr. Outi Supponen, EPFL 
The cellular response to hypoxia during microgravity (HYPOXIA)  Prof. Dr. Johannes Vogel and  Prof. Dr. Max Gassmann, University of Zurich 
Primary macrophages in microgravity  Dr. Cora Thiel and Prof. Dr. Oliver Ullrich, University of Zurich
Primary endothelial cells in microgravity  University Putra Malaysia 
Mechanical watches in altered gravity conditions  H. Moser & Cie 

2nd Swiss Parabolic Flight Campaign, October 2016 

The impact of hyper- and microgravity on expression of hypoxia-inducible factors alpha (HIFα’s) and their oxygen-dependent sub-cellular distribution  Prof. Dr. Johannes Vogel and  Prof. Dr. Max Gassmann, University of Zurich 
Gravity as a cue for plankton migrations  Prof. Dr. Roman Stocker, ETH Zürich 
Involvement of calcium in mechanosensitive processes of muscle cells Prof. Dr. Marcel Egli, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) 
Are calcium dependent Ion channels also sensitive to gravity?  Prof. Dr. Marcel Egli, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) 
Change of spinal stiffness in upright and prone position during microgravity induced by parabolic flights: A pilot study 

Dr. Jaap Swanenburg

Balgrist University Hospital, Zurich
Mars Sedimentation Experiment Settling Tube Photometer Rack (MarsSedEx-STP Rack)  Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Kuhn, University of Basel 
Virtual Reality in altered gravity  ICEBERG / Orbital Views 
Experiment in the SPmgLab system  (customer 1) SpacePharma, Courgenay 
Experiment in the SPmgLab system (customer 2) SpacePharma, Courgenay 
Experiment in the SPump system (customer 3) SpacePharma, Courgenay  

3rd Swiss Parabolic Flight Campaign, June 2018 

Microgravity turns soils anoxic 

Prof. Dr. Dani Or and Dr. Joaquin Jimenez-Martinez,

EAWAG, ETH Zurich 
The effect of changing gravity on spinal stiffness 

Dr. Jaap Swanenburg

Balgrist University Hospital, Zurich
Effects of microgravity on membrane potential in cartilage cells  Prof. Dr. Marcel Egli, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) 
Oxygen-shortage and manned space flights  Prof. Dr. Johannes Vogel and  Prof. Dr. Max Gassmann, University of Zurich 
Structural and molecular dynamics of cellular adaptation to microgravity 

Prof. Dr. Oliver Ullrich, University of Zurich,

Dr. Srujana Neelam, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) 

Crystallization in microgravity  SpacePharma, Courgenay 
Space Manufacturing Experiment  Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization (CSU), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) 
An exploratory study for measure and genesis of We-Consciousness: Induction through weightlessness in parabolic flights  Dr. Stephanie Schoss, University of St. Gallen (HSG) 

4th Swiss Parabolic Flight Campaign, June 2020 

TEMPus VoLA: The Timed Epstein Multi-Pressure-Vessel at Low Accelerations  Prof. Dr. Lucio Mayer, University of Zurich
Dr. Holly Capello, University of Bern Physics Institute
Computational Sedimentation Modeling Calibration Experiment (CompSedModCal) Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Josef Kuhn, University of Basel
Effect of altered gravity on the nucleus  Dr. Srujana Neelam, NASA Kennedy Space Center
Dr. Cora Thiel, University of Zurich
Mechanical Chest Compression in microgravity condition Dr. Alessandro Forti, Eurac Research, Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine
Prof. Dr. Olaf Schedler, Helios Klinikum Bad Saarow
Integrative analyses of nuclear gravitational force transduction mechanisms and their role in gene expression homeostasis in immune and muscle cells  Dr. Cora Thiel and Prof. Dr. Oliver Ullrich, University of Zurich
The impact of hyper- and microgravity on expression of hypoxia-inducible factors alpha (HIFα’s) and their oxygen-dependent sub-cellular distribution  Prof. Dr. Johannes Vogel and  Prof. Dr. Max Gassmann, University of Zurich 
Pharmacologically induced immune control in human macrophages to prevent severe courses of Covid-19 with transfer of results from Space Medicine  Dr. Cora Thiel and Prof. Dr. Oliver Ullrich, University of Zurich
Influence of different gravitational forces on the measurement of body functions using IMU based sensor systems  Prof. Dr. Jörg Goldhahn, Dominik Hollinger and student team, ETH Zurich