National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Lewis Research Center. Lewis researchers had been studying the behavior of liquid in microgravity for several years using ballistic rocket flights, aircraft flying series of parabolas, and in the 2.2-Second Drop Tower. It was easier to control experiments and repeat tests based on almost instantaneous test results in the Zero Gravity Research Facility than missiles or aircraft. It also more than doubled the microgravity time of the original drop tower.
The experiments were enclosed in a large experiment package that was suspended inside the chamber. A vacuum was introduced to the chamber before the package was released. The test equipment allowed researchers to film and take measurements of the experiment as it was falling. The 2500‐pound package was slowed by special Styrofoam‐like pellets in a decelerator cart. An experiment, traveling 176 feet per second, was stopped in about 15 feet of deceleration material.
The facility’s designers struggled to determine the correct type of deceleration pellets to use. For several years Lewis engineers tested various samples from manufacturers. The final selection was not made until the facility’s completion in May 1966, just before the facility made its public debut at the 1966 Inspection of the Center.