The Feeling of Weightlessness!
Inspired by the "Vomit Comet" that NASA uses to train astronauts, a California-based design firm is working on a roller coaster that would allow passengers to experience weightless for up to eight seconds. Such a roller coaster would be the first of its kind in the world. The NASA training plane uses parabolic dives to simulate the feeling of weightlessness that astronauts feel when they go into space. BRC Imagination Arts intends to do the same thing in a theme park. Passengers in an enclosed car will travel at 100 miles per hour down a track, and then the track will shoot straight up into the air. Jolting the passengers out of their seats and leaving them in suspended air - they would still be loosely belted into their seats, however. This is then maintained for several seconds as the coaster begins it backwards drop from the top of the tracks. A programmed computer system ensures that the coaster matches the speed of the falling passengers, thus creating the sensation of weightlessness. This ride is slated to cost $50 million, which is $20 million more than even the most expensive theme park rides tend to be. If funding can be secured, however, representatives say it could be ready as early as 2013.