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Engineering students to be in NASA micro-gravity flight

ANN ARBOR—Three University of Michigan engineering undergraduates will get the ride of their life this April when they experience near-weightless conditions in the same KC-135A research aircraft used to train NASA astronauts.

The U-M team is one of 24 selected by NASA scientists to participate in the program, which is administered by the Texas Space Grant Consortium. Each student team has designed a scientific experiment to conduct during the 30 to 50 intervals of "zero-gravity," each lasting about 25 seconds, which they will experience during the flight.

U-M students participating in the program are:

—Amber Thweatt, a U-M senior in aerospace and mechanical engineering from South Haven, Mich.

—Dennis J. Kroeger, a U-M senior in aerospace engineering from Glen Ellyn, Ill.

—John Korsakas, a U-M senior in electrical engineering from West Bloomfield, Mich.

On April 7, U-M students will report to Ellington Field, Texas, home of the Johnson Space Center's Reduced-Gravity Program, for a week of pre-flight training and orientation. KC- 135A flights will occur during the week of April 14.

The U-M team has designed and built a Vortex Ring Transit Experiment to answer some basic questions about atomization—the process by which a liquid converts to small droplets suspended in the atmosphere. Under reduced gravity, the students will be able to generate larger droplets than are possible on Earth. Data and images from the experiment will lead to increased understanding of just how the atomization process takes place.

The U-M Vortex Ring Transit Experiment is scheduled to fly in the payload bay of the space shuttle late in 1997. The KC- 135A flight will give U-M students the opportunity to test their experiment under microgravity conditions before the space shuttle flight, according to Sven Bilen, a U-M graduate student and team adviser. Luis P. Bernal, associate professor of aerospace engineering, is the team's faculty adviser.

NASAJohnson Space CenterLuis P. Bernal