ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy completed a virtual moonwalk in true Lunar gravity, during a weightless and partial gravity flight performed by parabolic flight operator Novespace on 22nd October.
It was the first test of a series of simulations developed by ICEBERG, called Orbital Views, which combine virtual reality with the microgravity conditions experienced during parabolic flights of the Novespace Airbus A310 Zero-G. ICEBERG (Isolated and Confined Environments Behavior & Emotions Research Group) and Novespace have formed a strategic partnership to enable the use of virtual reality in true weightlessness.
Parabolic flights on aircraft are the only way to experience the true weightlessness of space — as well as Mars and Moon gravity — without actually going to space. Wearing an immersive virtual reality headset while floating in zero-gravity or partial gravity reproduces the exact feeling of space travel, for a fraction of the price.
In 2013, Novespace opened parabolic flights to private passengers under its Air Zero G brand in order to satisfy public demand, and at the same time contribute to the funding of scientific research flights.
Clervoy, who is also president of Novespace, summarised his experience as follows : “As a European astronaut I have flown in space, experienced lunar gravity in parabolic flights, and even simulated the Apollo XI mission on the bottom of the Mediterranean sea. Experiencing the Orbital Views moonwalk onboard the A310 ZERO-G aircraft in true Lunar gravity really feels like being on the Moon in situ.”