AstroAccess takes disabled participants on zero gravity plane ride

AstroAccess took 12 disabled participants more than 30,000 feet in the air.

Jaysha Patel Image
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Disabled participants go on zero gravity plane ride
12 disabled AstroAccess participants went on a plane ride that made them feel like they were in space.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A group of disabled participants with AstroAccess, a company focused on advancing disability inclusion in space travel, had the chance to feel like they were floating in space.

Their first flight mission was on Sunday.

"We actually flew off the coast of California up to about 32,000 feet and did 15 parabolic maneuvers in which we experienced the joy and wonder of micro gravity," said George Whitesides, the co-project lead of AstroAccess.

The participants practiced mobility, visual and audio cues.

"You know it was great floating and not looking up from the ground. I don't really look up from my chair anymore because I have an elevator, but still for many years I didn't have that," said Dana Bolles, a flight participant.

Participants say the opportunity to go to space is available to more people now, so it's important that it's accessible for everyone.

"For the deaf community, I think this was a big challenge because when you're trying to sign in zero g, you can't stop yourself. You're moving, so you're kind of moving as you're talking and then you have to stop signing and push off the wall," said Apurva Varia, a flight participant.

The participants talked about what could be done to make space travel easier for disabled people.

"I think something that would be really helpful is like a foot rail that I think could've been a really helpful design especially one I'd be able to adapt for my prosthetic leg," said Mary Cooper, a flight participant.

All of the participants had one universal message for others who may be disabled.

"Don't accept no if that's something you really want to do because you're capable," said Bolles.

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