SPFC means
Student Parabolic Flight Campaignbut what is a parabolic flight?

   A parabolic flight is a great chance to feel the ingravity, as an astronaut in space, inside a plane. To get this fact, the p'lane has to fly along a parabola, growing its altitude with an aceleration of 1,8g, then changing the trayectory to "draw" a parabola in the sky (during this time, about 22 seconds, there are ingravity condition inside the plane) and, finally, going down with the same acceleration than the first phase aproximately.

   Basically, SPFC consists in designing an experiment that works in ingravity conditions. If the experiment is selected, the designing is converted in a real project in the construction phase. Then, it's moved to the headquarters where it's going to do the parabolic flight.

   APSIDE association has been selected 4 times to participate in this project.


Solar light as a propulsion system for satellites study.

   The last experiment selected is a model of solar sail, based on a satellite propulsion system through the impulse of the solar light. Basically, photons comes from the Sun to the sail and they give it their linear momentum, so the sail adquires some impulse. The problem is that energy is not so big, so movement is very slow, but the main features of this kind of propulsion is the posibility to reduce the satellite mass. In order to simulate space conditions there has been builded a vacuum chamber for the sail.


   Experiment description is very simple. Structure is formed by two separated chambers, builded with metallic and transparent materials. The aim of one of the chambers is to isolate the vacuum pump from the rest of the experiment. The other chamber is for the sail, with vacuum conditions, in order to avoid convection currents produced by the hot air due to the lamp. Under this chamber is the illumination system. In our case, we can't use the solar light, so we've simulated with a sodium lamp. Moreover, we have used a very reflective material under the lamp, in order to get the most of the light and focus it to the sail. The sail model is builded with a very light material to get a big movement. Anyway, we don't expect to see a huge movement, so we need a very precise measure system. For this reason, we've fixed four sensors in the top of the sail chamber. These sensors will take measurements and then we can analyse these data.


Experiment pictures (click to a bigger size):

      

         


Previous experiments