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Mechanical Engineering Students Prepare for Flight Aboard NASA's Reduced Gravity Aircraft


Mechanical Engineering Students Prepare for Flight Aboard NASA's Reduced Gravity Aircraft

July 05, 2013

Five UTEP students will venture to NASA Johnson Space Center's Ellington Field in Houston to conduct experiments aboard the reduced gravity aircraft in July 2013.

The Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program (RGEFP) gives undergraduate students the opportunity to propose, build and fly experiments in reduced gravity. The teams will perform the experiments aboard a microgravity aircraft, which produces periods of weightlessness for up to 25 seconds at a time by executing a series of approximately 30 roller coaster-like parabolas over the Gulf of Mexico. During the free falls, the students will to gather data in the unique environment that mimics space.

UTEP team's opportunity to participate is the result of the hard work and commitment of undergraduate students Israel Lopez, Heimdall Mendoza, Jaime Campero, Edgardo Flores, Christian Amezcua, graduate students Armando Delgado and faculty advisor Prof. Evgeny Shafirovich. The team was selected based on scientific merit and educational outreach potential from more than 67 proposals. They have put many hours into researching and building their experiment. They are also taking time to reach out to other students and the community to share their unique experiences and discoveries.

"We are excited that our program provides once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for aspiring scientists and engineers to study and understand their craft. The students gain useful skills by participating in the program through collaborative planning and teamwork," said Frank Prochaska, RGEFP Manager.

The UTEP student team will arrive at Ellington Field, where astronauts do their T-38 training. They will then go through required training and safety briefs and then will fly their experiments during the week of July 15-19, 2013. This experiment will investigate combustion of lunar regolith simulant mixed with magnesium, with the goal to develop a method for the production of construction materials on the Moon. Following their flight, the team will evaluate findings, draw conclusions and provide the results to NASA.

For more information about the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, visit:

Or contact Ciandra Jackson at NASA Johnson Space Center's Public Affairs Office, at 281-483-2924, or

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The University of Texas at El Paso
College of Engineering
Engineering Building Room A148
500 W University Ave
El Paso, TX 79968

Phone: (915) 747-6444
Fax: (915) 747-5437

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