Admission to the course will be done by a “project team” consisting of one or more members. Interested graduate students apply via an online webform (link below) and share details on their proposed concept and team members. Depending on interest level and the number of applicants, we may have to cap team size to 3 or 4 people per project, actually admitted into the class. We do NOT require that all members of a team take the class, just a minimum of one representative for the project.
Admitted teams will be invited to take the class together and the associated single, coordinated project will be granted a tentative “project deployment slot” and one tentative “flyer slot” for a member of the project team to accompany and carry-out the research on the Spring 2024 flight (see definitions below). This means that several students may take the class together to work on a collaborative project, but we can only reserve one flyer seat per project. We will not choose who the ultimate flyer/operator is out of the team members—this is up to the team and their advisors.
Final determination of confirmed project deployment slots and confirmed flyer slots will be decided upon completion of a rigorous, novel prototype and thorough documentation that can demonstrate nearly complete readiness to fly by the Critical Design Review (CDR) at the end of the class. Course instructors will make the final determination on what flies. We do not intend to admit more projects into the class than we would have space for in the flight, so the course is therefore not a competition between teams. The reserved slots are there, but must be earned by high quality project completion.
Due to the physical constraints of the parabolic flight, we will only be able to admit a small total number of projects (and the final count depends on the physical dimensions of each proposed entry). The application will be open through Friday, September 15th, with final selections announced by Sept 18th, in preparation for the second full class on September 19th. We strongly suggest applying as early as possible to give more time for review of your application, and because slots will be filled on a rolling basis. All applicants should attend the first class on September 12th.
Interested in deploying a research project, with no need to personally accompany it? Great! These types of projects are easier to admit into the class, as they don’t require an additional reserved “flyer” spot, which are in short supply. Projects applying in this category should be primarily passive (e.g. physiological sensors worn by participants or similar), and not require extensive efforts from other onboard flyers.
Project team: Consists of one or more collaborators on the same project.
Project deployment slot: A reserved opportunity to deploy a single research experiment or project on the parabolic flight. Presumes a certain amount of floor layout space for hardware, room to operate, and floating space in the cabin.
Flyer slot: A reserved opportunity for one human to accompany and carry-out a research experiment or project on the parabolic flight as an operator.
Project makes explicit use of the unique affordances of altered gravity (i.e., something you couldn't do on the ground)
Project has a lifecycle or impact that will extend beyond just the 90 minute flight experience (i.e., there will be a research output, from data and academic paper to narrative storytelling to video documentation, that contributes to a continuing effort)
Project must be rigorous and well-researched. Applications should cite relevant prior work and show how the project is novel and contributes meaningfully to its relevant field.
Bonus points if the project addresses "Space Hacking", and ways to make space exploration open-access (i.e., does the project use an innovative low-cost method that could be replicated for more extensive deployment in space, does the project engage and empower a broader community with the question it explores, etc).
**Projects associated with the Space Exploration Initiative (i.e., those that have pitched slides in prior Initiative meetings and workshops, are preparing and validating research for follow on sub-orbital or orbital launch opportunities, etc), or explicitly collaborative projects between the Media Lab and other departments, will have priority. There are a number of available seats to work with though, and we would love to see as wide a representation from MIT as possible. Please feel encouraged to apply even if you haven't previously engaged with the Initiative!
We encourage project submissions in a range of categories:
Explores a research question (can be unrelated to your usual Lab research, pending advisor approval; any field or antidisciplinary approach is welcome!)
Serves a meaningful, educational outreach purpose with some tie-in to your Lab, MIT, or the Space Exploration Initiative
Creates a unique opportunity for a provocative/imaginative statement or narrative
Not sure if you want to apply but are still interested and want to learn more? Please fill out this form so we can add you to our interest list and share the details of our first class.