EJR-Quartz goes weightless: a parabolic flight experience with Laylan

Celenie JauniauxCelenie Jauniaux
  29 November 2022

ESA Education’s manifesto is learning by doing, and as editor and content producer for the department our colleague Laylan Saadaldin got to experience this first-hand. She joined researchers, including two university student teams, for the 79th ESA Parabolic Flight Campaign, a mission she will remember for the rest of her life.

Laylan, take us through this amazing day at work.

We flew to Novespace in Bordeaux to board the Air Zero G, an aircraft that flies in parabolas providing researchers 20-second bursts of weightlessness to test their experiments. ESA Academy’s PETRI programme offers university student teams access to this (and more!) gravity platforms. I tagged along to film the student experience of this programme, which included the mind-blowing sensation of floating, sure, but also stress, disappointment, trouble shooting and even some failure. Science is hard and you have to be able to adapt and respond quickly. As it happens, filming science requires similar skills – when you’re a fly on the wall, you have to be ready to move out of the way but still get what you need. But it’s fair to say that for both science and communication, the effort is worth it. And because I’m never one to let an opportunity pass me by, we also shot some content for ESA Kids on the complicated wonder that is gravity. Look out for both episodes on ESA Education!

Fun fact: a campaign is made up of three flights, and each flight has a ‘media’ seat reserved for journalists, content creators and influencers to promote the science and experience of a zero-G flight. Joining this campaign was Jamie from Cosmic Kids Yoga, whom adults with kids might know from lockdown experience as a life saver! Cosmic Kids collaborated with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti during her Minerva mission to create a yoga plan for her aboard the ISS. You can do this at home, by the way. Find this cool bonus activity on the Mission X: Train like an Astronaut. Jamie got to try out her yoga sequence in weightlessness, and I can’t wait to see how that turned out.

But Laylan, tell us how you really feel about going weightless.

I’ll do one better, I’ll show you!