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After breaking numerous records on Earth, retired Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt recently put his legendary speed to test in “space.” The “out-of-this-world” race, staged in a zero gravity environment aboard an airplane designed for scientific research, took place over France on September 13, 2018. It was a publicity stunt organized by champagne maker G.H.Mumm, to showcase a newly-designed bottle, created to make it easier for astronauts and future space tourists to enjoy the beverage while floating through outer space.
To simulate zero-gravity conditions, the airplane performed parabolic-shaped dives, a maneuver that involves reducing thrust and lowering the nose to maintain a neutral, or “zero lift,” configuration. Often used to train astronauts in zero-g exercises, it provides about 25 seconds of weightlessness out of 65 seconds of flight in each parabola. Though his two competitors were comfortable not being supported by gravity, it was a new sensation for Bolt. He later said, “I was nervous but as soon as the first one [parabola] goes you kind of go, ‘Oh my God,’ what’s happening? But after the third one I was like ‘Yeah’, it’s crazy!”
However, the professional sprinter did not allow nerves to get in the way of his first space race. While Bolt managed to outrun his competitors only slightly in the first lap, he established, and maintained, an impressive lead on the return, leaving no doubt that he is indeed, the fastest man on earth and in space!
Though this was Bolt’s first zero-g experience, it's not his first foray into space. In 2017, the organizers of UK’s Big Bang Fair partnered with scientists from the University of Birmingham Astronomical Society to create a new set of constellations. Designed to inspire kids to “Look Up To The Stars,” they bear close resemblances to modern-day sports, entertainment, and science icons. Among the fun new star formations identified by the astronomers are Harry Potter’s glasses, Serena Williams’ racket, Paddington Bear’s boots and, best of all, Bolt’s signature victory pose!
Resources: Interestingengineering.com, birmingham.ac.uk, itv.com