National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Group Project

Practical High Altitude Microgravity Experiment (PHAME)


A low-cost, balloon-lifted drop vehicle is proposed for microgravity research experiments. A proof of concept apparatus, which includes a lift and drop module, will be designed and constructed. The lift vehicle will consist of a helium-filled weather balloon capable of lifting a six-pound payload to an altitude of over 100,000 ft. The drop vehicle will consist of an outer drag shield carrying vehicle status sensors, GPS, communication system, camera, and parachute recovery system. Within the outer drag shield, an inner drop vehicle will carry a self-contained accelerometer package to record experimental data. The lift module will carry the drop module to the cut-off altitude, the connection will be severed, and the drop vehicle will enter free fall. The inner module will fall through the center of the drag shield creating approximately five seconds of high-quality low gravity conditions.