The History of C-9B Reduced Gravity Research Program

C-9 aircraft acquired by NASA from the U.S. Navy on 9 August 2003 from Whidbey Island NAS, WA. The C-9 is the military version of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 used for many years by the commercial airlines. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force have utilized the C-9 aircraft in support of passenger transportation, medical evacuation and special missions.

The primary mission of the NASA C-9 is to provide NASA and government microgravity researchers the platform to perform their research in a reduced gravity environment. The aircraft is also utilized for Heavy Aircraft Training (HAT) for astronaut pilots, support the movement of the shuttle from landing sites in California and New Mexico back to Kennedy Space Center, Trans-Atlantic Landing support and the Emergency Mission Control Move mission.

Born on Date: 15 January 1970
First Owner: KLM Airlines
U. S. Navy: 8 July 1989 – 9 August 2003
Total Time on Aircraft: 53,064.3 hours
Total Number of Landings: 45,882
General Characteristics:
Primary Function:   Reduced Gravity Platform 
Contractor: Boeing Aircraft Corporation (formerly the McDonnell Douglas Corporation)
Unit Cost: $35 million
Thrust: Two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A Turbofan engines; 14,500 pounds each engine
Length: 119 feet 3 inches
Wingspan: 93 feet 3 inches
Height: 27 feet 5 inches
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 110,000 pounds
Range: More than 2,000 miles
Ceiling: 37,000 feet
Speed: 565 mph ( Mach .86) at 25,000 feet
Seating: Reduced Gravity Missions 20 research seats
Crew: Reduced Gravity Operations (Pilot, Copilot, Flight Engineer, 2 Test Directors)
Additional crew members: Flight Surgeon, Video person, Photographer

Reduced Gravity Missions:
Mission length 2.5 hours, 40 – 60 parabolas, 4 flights per week, gravity levels zero-g, partial gravity levels (.16 lunar, .38 martian) and sustained hyper-g (1.6g) per researcher requirements.

Operating Locations:
Johnson Space Center, Glenn Research Center