As their bodies left the floor of the plane during the first lunar gravity parabola, the Microgravity University students looked like they had just seen snow for the first time. And in a way, that look never left. While the teams were focused on their research, they couldn't help but test an environment that only a handful of human beings ever have experienced.
Dan, Barbara and Alex did some serious acrobatics during the three zero-G passes. The crew told us to make sure we were hanging onto something before we nosed over, and then it was a sudden, involuntary trip toward the ceiling. Where the lunar and Martian gravity situations required a little manpower to manipulate, the zero-G played with us. Legs, arms and cameras floated and spun, and you could definitely see the difference between the veteran flyers and those who were weightless for the first time.
The experience was once in a lifetime (unless some of these students follow in Barbara Morgan's footsteps and become astronauts). We can't thank the NASA staff enough for allowing us to be involved in such an incredible project, from the Johnson Space Center to the Neutral Buoyancy Lab to Ellington Field. We are back on the ground, but we may never be the same. The second crew flies tomorrow, and we can't wait to hear their stories.