NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program has chosen seven Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR): companies to get involved in reduced-gravity test flights in early September. They will have the chance to test their newly-made hardware on an aircraft that simulates the weightless conditions of spaceflight. The flights will be the first for NASA’s FAST — Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training program.
Through FAST, NASA will give a flight demonstration opportunity while the developer gives the technology. The choosing for the first round of flights was only for companies under SBIR contracts with NASA. Later on, the competition will increase to any companies and laboratories teaming up on important technology to NASA’s missions. Another important factor of FAST is that the Zero-Gravity Corporation of Las Vegas will conduct the flights as a mainstream service to NASA.
NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland is in charge of the Zero-Gravity Corporation, which is also involved with the opportunity to expand the agency’s ability of mainstream services. NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and Glenn are giving technical support to the competing companies.