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Experience Outer Space

Kid Reporter sends his sister floating

By Jimmy Pitenis | April 2 , 2007
Angela Pitenis on G-Force One during a test run of the zero-gravity program at the Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo: Courtesy Zero Gravity Corporation)
Angela Pitenis on G-Force One during a test run of the zero-gravity program at the Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo: Courtesy Zero Gravity Corporation)

Have you ever wondered what it was like to float in midair like an astronaut? Angela Pitenis, a 17-year-old senior from Port Orange, Florida, found out for herself. She participated in a test run of a program at the Florida Microgravity Education and Research Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Created by Space Florida and Zero Gravity Corporation, the zero-gravity program lets you fly in a special airplane and float in midair for short periods of time.

Eight teachers from Florida schools were selected to participate in the program, along with five students from ages 14 to 17. One of those students was Angela, the sister of Scholastic Kid Reporter Jimmy Pitenis, age 10. Jimmy was too young to go on the test flight, so he sent his sister.

Did Angela like the ride?

“I loved it!” she said. “It was the most incredible experience of my life. It felt like I was swimming in a pool with no water in it. I can’t wait to have an opportunity to fly again in zero gravity.”

The flight is kind of like a roller coaster, she explained. Passengers experience three types of gravitational pulls: zero gravity (weightlessness), the pull of the moon, and the pull of Mars. Angela enjoyed each one, but did prefer one of them.

“The moon's gravitational pull was my favorite because it allowed me to experience a fair amount of weightlessness, but I still had some control,” she said.

How It Works

Gravity is the force that pulls things down toward the surface of the Earth and keeps them from floating away into space. This program uses a special airplane, called G-Force One, which changes what gravity does. Pilots fly the plane in specific flight paths so that people are weightless for about 30 seconds at a time.

“Space Florida and Zero Gravity Corporation are trying to reach thousands of teachers and create a complete and innovative program that both promotes space education and attracts more commercial and government aerospace activities to the state,” said Steve Kohler, president and CEO of Space Florida.

The weightless flights are similar to those conducted by NASA to train its astronauts.

For more information about the program and to learn how you or your school can get involved, please visit the Zero-G Web site.

Critical Thinking Question

Read today's news story, and then answer the following question.


What could you learn by experiencing zero gravity? How might that help future generations?

Join a discussion of this question on our bulletin board.

 

About the Author

Jimmy Pitenis is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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