The red blob floating in mid-air was patient Phillipe Sanchot’s tumour after removal under zero-gravity conditions. French doctors have performed a world-first operation in weightless conditions in a specially made operating theatre measuring only 2 × 2 metres.
Doctors were held in place by straps and harnesses, and instruments by magnets, as the specially-adapted Airbus makes sharp rollercoaster-like maneouvres, each providing some 22 seconds of zero gravity.
Dozens of such dives, or parabolas, were needed for the 11 minute operation which, it is hoped will pioneer lifesaving techniques for use in outer space, either for astronauts or people who are inoperable back on Earth.
The operating theatre itself is so small and mobile it is hoped it could be developed for underground use in earthquake disasters, for example. Equipped with computer robotics, it could also one day be piloted by surgeons on the ground for space operations.