Colorado State Students Test Exercise Machine in Weightlessness

Note to Editors: Filmed footage of the flight and live TV interviews with team members will be available from NASA Thursday from 3-5 p.m. MST. Television stations interested in B-roll from the flight or in a live interview with team members can call Colorado State’s media relations office at (970) 491-6432. Online photos are also available.

Four Colorado State University students are taking a roller coaster ride Wednesday and Thursday to help NASA astronauts.

The team last year developed an exercise device designed to prevent muscle atrophy and bone weakness experienced by astronauts on long space voyages, and this year’s model features a number of refinements. To find out how well it works, the Colorado State crew will test their machine aboard a NASA KC-135A aircraft, a plane that can simulate the micro-gravity environment of space.

During two-to-three hour trips out of Johnson Space Center in Houston, the KC-135A will maneuver through a series of about 40 steep ascents and descents, creating about 25 seconds of zero gravity on each parabola. During the flights, the students will take turns exercising on the machine while a computer electronically monitors how their muscles are reacting to the resistance.

The students’ machine simulates the constant resistance that free- weight training provides on earth. The device appears similar to a weight machine in a gym but instead uses special springs to provide constant tension.

The Colorado State team was chosen to participate in NASA’s 1999 and 2000 Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Programs. The program invites college students around the country to test the effect of micro-gravity on a variety of scientific experiments.