Parabolic flight as a spaceflight analog

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2016 Jun 15;120(12):1442-8. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01046.2015. Epub 2016 Jan 21.


Ground-based analog facilities have had wide use in mimicking some of the features of spaceflight in a more-controlled and less-expensive manner. One such analog is parabolic flight, in which an aircraft flies repeated parabolic trajectories that provide short-duration periods of free fall (0 g) alternating with high-g pullout or recovery phases. Parabolic flight is unique in being able to provide true 0 g in a ground-based facility. Accordingly, it lends itself well to the investigation of specific areas of human spaceflight that can benefit from this capability, which predominantly includes neurovestibular effects, but also others such as human factors, locomotion, and medical procedures. Applications to research in artificial gravity and to effects likely to occur in upcoming commercial suborbital flights are also possible.

Keywords: locomotion; motion sickness; pulmonary; sensorimotor; spaceflight; vestibular.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aircraft*
  • Animals
  • Gravity, Altered
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Space Flight*
  • Weightlessness