NASA's Weightless Wonder Aircraft

When teaching the NES module, Exploring Space Through Math — The Weightless Wonder, your students may be interested in some background information about NASA’s Weightless Wonder aircraft.

The aircraft is a C-9. NASA acquired the airplane from the U.S. Navy on August 9, 2003, from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington state. 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 used the C-9 aircraft to support 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 also is used for Heavy Aircraft Training for astronaut pilots; to support the movement of the shuttle from landing sites in California and New Mexico back to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida; Trans-Atlantic Landing support; and the Emergency Mission Control Move mission.

“Born” on Date: Jan. 15, 1970
First Owner: KLM Airlines
U.S. Navy: July 8, 1989 – Aug.9, 2003
Total Time on Aircraft: 53,064.3 hours
Total Number of Landings: 45,882