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Zero-gravity training aircraft open for business

The doors of the world's largest 'vomit comet' are being thrown open to selected guests at the Paris show.

Invitations to inspect the A300 Zero-G parabolic flight training aircraft are being sent out by Novespace, a private company supported by the French Space Agency (CNES).

Initially introduced for astronaut training, parabolic flight is today principally used to test equipment intended for space flight and for scientific experiments.

The aircraft were dubbed 'vomit comets' by US astronauts during weight-lessness training because they made them continuously sick.

The A300 is the world's largest aircraft used for this type of training.

The transformation and redesign of the Airbus A300 were carried out in three areas: The cockpit was rearranged to satisfy requirements for flying parabolic manoeuvres; a special gauge and measurement station was added to record all parameters of aircraft operation; the aircraft cabin was entirely redesigned.

Novespace mission specialist Christophe Petit says: "A reduced gravity environment is obtained by flying the A300 Zero-G through a series of parabolic manoeuvres which result in 25sec periods of 0g acceleration.

"Each parabola is initiated with a 1.8g pull up and terminated with a 1.8g pull out."

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