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If you fly a plane in the right way at the right speed, you can be weightless for a few seconds. By throwing the aircraft into an orbit-like path within Earth's atmosphere, you can enter the wonderful world of weightlessness.

It is one of the best ways to simulate the environment of space, and a valuable experimental tool for scientists with a special interest in microgravity.

Take a journey into a free-floating world of the parabola in this edition of space with +euronews.

Other languages:
French: ESA Euronews: Vol parabolique : les joies de l'apesanteur
German: ESA Euronews: Zero-G fliegen
Italian: ESA Euronews: Volare in assenza di gravità
Portuguese: ESA Euronews: Voos parabólicos: no Espaço por alguns segundos
Spanish: ESA Euronews: Bienvenido a la ingravidez

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Fulfilling his longtime dream to fly to "infinity...and beyond!" a 12-inch-tall Buzz Lightyear action figure toy will be the special guest on the launch of space shuttle Discovery.
Credit: DisneyIntroductionWhen NASA's space shuttles launch into orbit, they don't just carry astronauts and supplies into the final frontier. There's a lot of other weird stuff that makes the out-of-this-world journey, too.

NASA's last space shuttle mission will launch Friday, July 8 on the Atlantis orbiter to deliver spare parts to the International Space Station. The mission will be the 135th and last flight for the program, which began in 1981.

But over the course of 30 years, the space shuttles have flown some peculiar objects into orbit. The list of odd stuff that flew aboard the shuttles is a long one, and includes the Olympic torch, a replica of the golden spike from the First Transcontinental Railroad, and rocks from the top of Mount Everest and the surface of the moon, just to name a few. 

Here nine recent space oddities carried into orbit on NASA shuttles:

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Airbus is examining a possible A321 fuselage modification which would aim to increase passenger capacity of the A321neo.

The modification would potentially take the A321neo to 235 seats.

Exit limitations mean the A321 is certificated, under European regulations, to transport a maximum of 220 passengers.

But Airbus executive vice-president for programmes Tom Williams says a higher-capacity version is "one of the things we're studying".

A321s have eight exits, four forward of the wing and four aft. The modification would involve adding another pair of doors, in the form of an overwing exit, and moving the position of the third pair.

The exit change could also require a new escape slide.

Williams says the A321neo "would be the target" for the proposed changes, which would allow a 235-seat configuration without a change in seat design.

Airbus has sought to increase seating on the A320 family by redesigning the galley area to use space more efficiently, but total seating has remained constrained by exit limits.

Williams would not indicate whether the study was being conducted for a specific customer.

But AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes, while confirming a new order for 64 A320neo and 36 regular A320s at Airbus's Broughton facility in the UK, said the carrier was looking at how to "get more seats into the aircraft".

The carrier's A320s are fitted with 180 seats, the maximum permissible.

AirAsia opted to stay with the A320 having considered a proposed high-density Bombardier CSeries.

As part of its new order AirAsia is taking options on 50 A321neos as well as 50 more A320neos.

AirAsia will take delivery of its latest 36 A320s up to 2016 - including 22 in 2015 alone - while its extra 64 A320neos will arrive over 2017-21.

It already had 200 A320neos on order which will be delivered during 2016-26. The carrier will make an engine decision on the latest order in January.

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