National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Zero Gravity Drop Tower

On Wednesday, July 17, Glenn interns had the chance to tour the Zero G drop tower. This is the largest drop tower in the world, providing 5.18 seconds of zero g as the payload drops 432 feet into the earth. A 20 foot diameter, 467 foot long vacuum chamber is located in a 28.5 foot, 510 foot long concrete shaft. The pressure in the chamber is reduced to the order of 10-5 atmospheres prior to the drop of the payload, which reduces drag to less than 10-5 g. A decelerator cart is located at the bottom of the chamber that is filled with polystyrene beads, which stops the payload in a mere 15 feet.

During the tour, the interns had the opportunity to visit the control room, which has been recently upgraded and modernized, and to take a view down the tower. Several interns were even brave enough to hold their cameras and phones over the tower opening, where a slip of the hand would almost certainly result in loss and destruction of the device.