July 11, 2012
The Zero-G Facility demonstrates the important position Glenn Research Center holds in NASA. As the biggest drop towers in the world, Glenn Research Center’s Zero-G facility facilitates conduct of relatively long experiments by researchers. Built in 1966, it is 510 ft. into the ground and has a 432 ft. drop, providing 5.18 seconds of microgravity. The entire test chamber is turned into a vacuum for the test. It takes the system an hour to reach 0.01 Torr. The vacuum eliminates any wind resistance so that the drop vehicle, which can weigh up to 2500 lbs., hits the cushioned pit at the bottom at 113 mph.
The facility has primarily been used for research in combustion and how fire behaves in space. This is essential because it can be difficult to extinguish fire in space and, also, fire burns faster and differently due to higher O2 concentration in the International Space Station and a lack of convection currents. The RAs got a chance to look into the pit, to observe the drop vehicles, and to sit in the drop control room.