If you need microgravity for your science project a test on a Zero G flight is of course cheaper than on the ISS. From the site of Novespace.com:
What are parabolic flights?
Parabolic flights are performed onboard aircrafts following a flight pattern which alternates ascents and descents with short level flight breaks.
Each of those manoeuvres, called parabolas, provide up to 22 seconds of reduced gravity or weightlessness.
During those reduced gravity phases, researchers flying onboard the aircraft perform experiments and collect data with conditions impossible to simulate on Earth.
What are the advantages of parabolic flights?
Parabolic flights offer advantages unique to this platform:
– Tests of systems in preparation for long-duration Space missions
– Biomedical research experiments on human test subjects in weightlessness
– Ideal environment for new experiments
– Tests of experiments in critical design phases
– Low cost of design and production of an experiment
– Possibility to carry out several series of experiments during three consecutive days
– Possibility to use standard laboratory equipment
– Researchers interact directly on their experiment during flight
At this moment the 107th Parabolic Flight campaign is underway. This time it’s for ESA, but there are also campaigns for DLR an CNES. A member of an Italian team tweets about this campaign and ads interesting photos. It gives you some insights on these campaigns.
The mascotte of ESA Kids Paxi was also on board.