The Zero-G Drone – A Method to Conduct Microgravity Experiments

Jonathan Snyder, Huan Min, Alejandro Salvador-Garcia, Raneem Elsayed, Pamela Grullon, Jenna Wendt, Onur Bilgen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The goal of this senior design project is to build a quadcopter that will simulate microgravity conditions by matching its trajectory to that of an ideal free-falling drag-free projectile for as long as possible. This project is a continuation of work done by our predecessors, and will present a new design of a drone. The drone is designed to carry an experiment platform that will collect data on microgravity experiments. A trade study of over 200 flight systems is performed in order to characterize the design space in terms of efficiency and microgravity time which is defined as the amount of time the drone is able to maintain 1g acceleration. The system parameters investigated include battery capacity, cell count, motor rpm/volt, propeller diameter and number of blades. The optimal trajectory is found by solving a one-dimensional nonlinear differential governing equation representing the drone subjected to external and internal forces. This result, which could be modified based on a drone’s mass, thrust capacity and maximum altitude, informed the design space study, and is used to predict a maximum microgravity time. Future work includes flight tests to evaluate the performance of the Zero-G Drone, simulation-assisted design optimization of the entire system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA SciTech Forum 2022
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624106316
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes
EventAIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, AIAA SciTech Forum 2022 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Jan 3 2022Jan 7 2022

Publication series

NameAIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, AIAA SciTech Forum 2022


ConferenceAIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, AIAA SciTech Forum 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'The Zero-G Drone – A Method to Conduct Microgravity Experiments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this