The Fly Your Thesis! (FYT) programme is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to propose, design, build, test and fly their experiment on board a parabolic flight. During the Parabolic Flight Campaign, operated by Novespace in Bordeaux, France, student teams will be able to participate in three flights with 31 parabolas per flight. As one parabola contains approximately 22 seconds of microgravity, the teams will experience over 10 minutes of microgravity per flight and can thus benefit from over 30 minutes of microgravity in total to achieve their scientific objectives.
To apply for FYT, teams should be composed out of at least four master students or PhD candidates from an ESA Member state, Canada or Slovenia. However, an active involvement of more students is desirable, due to the workload of the programme. Additionally, teams ought to strive for diversity and equality when creating a team, as ESA strongly believes in equal opportunities in the workplace. In addition, team architecture should be well balanced in terms of skills and competences that will persuade ESA that the objectives proposed can be achieved.
Eligible teams should submit an accurately completed Experiment Proposal document. In this Experiment Proposal, it is not only important to detail the description of the experiment intended to be conducted, but also to explain matters such as the need for the microgravity conditions, the integration of the research in the master or PhD study and how the team intends to cope with a possible turn-over in case one of the team members decides to leave the team.
Once the call closes, ESA Academy will short-list a restricted number of teams that will proceed to the next selection round, based on eligibility criteria, microgravity relevance, proposal quality, scientific return and educational return. Educational return for the students will be evaluated and the relevance of the experiment for the master or PhD theses of one or more of the team members.
The shortlisted teams will be given a week to complete a first draft of their Experiment Safety Data Package: a technical document that is required to be filled in by all the teams that participate in the ESA Parabolic Flight Campaigns. The teams will also be invited to a selection workshop at ESA/ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, to present their experiment proposal to a review board composed of ESA Education representatives, ESA Human and Robotic Exploration Directorate representatives, Novespace staff and members of the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA). After this workshop, the review board will select the teams that will be offered the chance to fly on the 72nd Parabolic Flight Campaign, scheduled to take place late in 2020.
The selected teams will be supported in their preparations by ESA Academy, ESA and Novespace microgravity experts. The teams might also be offered an additional mentor of the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA) to further help them in their development. ESA Academy will provide some financial support in order to cover parts of travel and accommodation.
Interested teams should carefully read all the information given on this website.
Any UK teams selected for these programmes will get some funding from ESA Education and can also apply to UK Space Agency for further funding towards the experiment build costs. Details here.