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SGAC Announces the Barcelona Zero-G Aerobatics Challenge Winners

06 November, 2011

Interdisciplinary, international and intercultural team from Canada, Spain and Uruguay take the prize.

SGAC Announces the Barcelona Zero-G Aerobatics Challenge Winners

06 November, 2011




SGAC in partnership with Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC) (eng. Barcelona Tech), Aeroclub Barcelona-Sabadell and Barcelona Aeronautica & Space Association (BAIE) staged the Barcelona Zero-Gravity (ZeroG) Aerobatics Challenge and have announced the winners.

The winning team was ENSENAR (Enabling space exploration through innovation, ambition, and research) which was comprised of David Ferrer Desclaux (Spain), Jeffrey Osborne (Canada) and Victoria Alonsoperez (Uruguay). See below for the winners’ biographies.

The challenge was very competitive with all teams proposing forward-thinking experiments. The winning study focused on examining the effects of mental stress under various gravitational environments. Two participants are flown on two different parabolic flights, one establishing the baseline measurements to determine their heart rate and variability of their heart rate in a changing gravitational environment. During the second flight, the participants perform mental arithmetic, to observe the effect on heart rates. The changes in heart rates are compared with and without mental arithmetic for gravity, normal gravity (1g), and hypergravity.

The first Barcelona Zero Challenge edition of the UPC Barcelona ZeroG Challenge took place in 2010. The 2011 contest was led by Professor Antoni Pérez-Poch of UPC, Barcelona Tech. All projects submitted to the Barcelona ZeroG Challenge 2011 were carefully evaluated by independent senior space researchers from ELGRA, who had exemplary experience in life sciences research. In addition, experienced pilots from the Aeroclub Barcelona-Sabadell and a representative from a youth association contributed to the evaluation. 

The scientific merit, suitability, international perspective, safety and outreach aspects were taken into account to provide the winning experiment with the highest total mark of all projects submitted.  Based on this criteria, the evaluators recommended flying the winning experiment on a ZeroG flight to represent the Barcelona ZeroG Challenge 2011.

In order to be eligible to fly on board the Aerobatic Plane, the winners had to provide valid passports and a JAR Class II Aeronautic Medical Certificate (or equivalent) as well as sign UPC Terms and Conditions. Additionally, they agreed a medical examination in Barcelona (Spain) on 18 November and to be present at the winning flight at Sabadell Airport on 19 November.

Competition overview

The competition challenged teams of 2-3 people between the ages of 18-35 in the space sector to submit proposals for experiments to be conducted in a ZeroG environment. Interdisciplinary, international and intercultural teams were welcomed.  The experiment submission had to consist of an abstract, followed by a final submission for applicants, leading to the final decision on the announcement of the winners. Following this, a flight campaign is scheduled for 19 November and the competition winner’s final report is due on 15 December.  Of the top three teams with the best proposals, only one was eligible to fly in ZeroG to test their experiments. Flights will be conducted at the Sabadell Airport (30 minutes drive from Barcelona, Spain) and media will be present to cover the event.

The competition required multiple document proposals from the participants detailing:

  • Scientific or technical (if it is a demonstration) objectives
  • Experimental expected results both on earth and in flight
  • A description of the experiment
  • How data will be processed and analysed
  • A brief summary of why the experiment was relevant
  • A brief résumé of each member on the team; diverse, international teams were highly encouraged
  • A signature from a professor or tutor from an academic institution in support of the project team

Undergraduate and masters students from all over the world where SGAC has a presence were welcome to apply. Team members were eligible to fly with the experiment provided they had a currently valid Joint Aviation Requirement/Federal Aviation Administration (JAR/FAA) Class II Medical Certificate.

The allowed geometry/size of the experiment was to be a maximum of 30cm x20cm x 20cm, with no moving parts outside. The maximum weight was 10kg with no hazardous materials, and if liquids were present, the equipment had to be completely watertight. The interfaces to attach it to the zero-g airplane which encompassed the experiments had to be designed to be wearable, as part of the payload specialist’s clothing and they were not be allowed to freely float into the cockpit. The exact duration of free-fall will be up to 10 parabolas of 5-7 seconds and the g-profile during this duration would be a maximum g load of 3.5 g on pull-in and pull-out manoeuvres. The aircraft will be operated by Aeroclub Barcelona-Sabadell, with an expert aerobatic licensed pilot-in-command and a payload specialist to be on board of the aerobatic plane.


About David Ferrer Desclaux

david_ferrerBorn in Ibiza, Spain, 25 years ago, but with French origins, David Ferrer’s interest in aeronautics and aerospace emerged from flights from Ibiza to Toulouse to visit his family. Having a grandfather working at Aerospatiale just increased that passion. At the age of 18, he moved to Barcelona to start his master’s degree in aeronautics and aerospace, which concluded five years later by doing his master’s thesis at SUPAERO, in Toulouse, one of the top aerospace universities in Europe. During the last two years, he has been a founding member of zero2infinity, the first company that will bring tourists to near space in an environmentally clean vehicle.  David has also attended the ISU Space Studies Program during the summer of 2011 in Graz.

Upon hearing team Ensenar’s history making win, David commented, “I feel very excited to have been awarded with the opportunity of flying our experiment in a zeroG platform and I hope that it's results will help future researchers on that field.”



About Jeffrey Osborne


Jeffrey Osborne was born outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and spent most of his childhood living in various locations all over southern Ontario. He attended Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical and Materials Engineering with Professional Internship, with first class honours, in May of 2011. Jeff has always been fascinated by space, spending many cold winter nights with his telescope looking up at the night sky, seeing the rings of Saturn, or the moons of Jupiter. But in addition to his passion for space, Jeff is an avid adventurer; he enjoys backwoods camping, rock climbing, mountain biking, parachuting, and on a few occasions has flown planes. Jeff also has done volunteer work for various humane societies, as he enjoys working with and caring for animals. Jeff studied with the International Space University for their 2011 summer Space Studies Program in Graz, Austria, and has recently begun their 2011-2012 Master's program, studying Space Sciences with a specialization in human spaceflight at their central campus in Strasbourg, France.

Jeffrey said on what this win means to him, “It is truly an honour to be selected for this amazing experience from what, I can only imagine, was a group of exceptionally well-crafted proposals. It is extremely exciting to not only perform this fascinating experiment, but to use this opportunity as a platform to engage others in space activities and research. For me, the most important asset that space exploration provides is the ability to inspire, and we will strive to do just that.


About Victoria Alonsopérez


Victoria Alonsopérez was born and raised in Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, where she is a senior electrical engineering student at the Universidad de la Republica. Throughout her life, her biggest passion has always been space. It started at four years old, and since then she always tried to become involved in as many aerospace activities as she could. In 2009, Victoria was awarded with the IAF Youth Grant that enabled her to participate in the UN/IAF Workshop, the IAC and the Space Generation Congress. After that she became very excited about the work done at SGAC and some months later she became SGAC National Point of Contact of Uruguay. She presented papers at IAC 2010 and 2011, and in 2011 she was awarded the Peter Diamandis Scholarship to attend SGC, where she was projects co-coordinator. Currently, Uruguay is making its first steps on the practice of aerospace engineering by building the first Uruguayan cubesat and Victoria was in charge of building the attitude determination system with two friends. This year she was a participant at International Space University "Space Studies Program" where she met Jeffrey and David and they designed the experiment for the Barcelona Zero-G challenge.

Upon hearing their selection, Victoria commented, “I am extremely excited about this amazing opportunity. For us it is an honor to have been selected for this unique experience and I am sure that we will make the best out of it.”


About Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC)/ The UPC. Barcelona Tech



The UPC. Barcelona Tech is a university with an excellent worldwide reputation and an international vision that spawns technological innovation and attracts talent. This technical university has the highest number of international PhD students and international master’s degree students in Spain. The University offers a wide selection of master’s degree programs in English, participation in the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and various international research programs.For detailed information check out the University’s homepage.


About Aeroclub Barcelona-Sabadell



The Aeroclub Barcelona-Sabadell from the very moment of its inception has been a driving force for promoting culture and aircraft for sport aviation in Spain. It undertakes many activities which promote advancement and popularization of aviation. The Club encourages environmental-friendly use of aircraft. What is more, Barcelona-Sabadell organizes annual rallies, among which there is a set of races that counts for the Spanish Air Rally Championship.
More information can be found here (Spanish only)


About BAIE



BAIE is a platform that aims to promote the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona and Catalonia as a competitive setting for the activities related to the aeronautical and space industry. Main goals of BAIE include, among others, developing a cluster to increase the activity of the aerospace sector in Barcelona and Catalonia; attracting investment and related aerospace industries to the region; boosting the education capabilities of the region; and establishing strategic links, co-operation agreements and R&D co-operation within the aeronautical and space community. For more information see the BAIE’s homepage.





The European Low Gravity Research Association is a non-profit international society of multidisciplinary character. ELGRA is devoted to the promotion of research under various gravity conditions in Europe. The organization provides a platform for all scientists interested in life and physical sciences and technology in space or on ground.
Moreover, the aim of the association is to represent and strengthen the scientific community of low gravity research. In particular, ELGRA supports emerging young scientists in low- and also hyper-gravity research by its educational programs. For more information see the ELGRA homepage


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