I have plenty of space fairing aliens with wings that are capable of flight. I can’t help myself it’s just a cool feature for an alien and a have. But I want to adress A potential issue in getting a species literally born to fly past the atmosphere.

See, in the same way that standing on a thrust-grav ship hitting 1 G it feels exactly the same as standing on earth, free falling feels the same as zero gravity. Now since humans were designed to walk on the ground, when a human experiences Zero G, it’s fun, it’s something you talk about with everyone back home. However a winged creature is hard wired to maintain control while airborne, so they will not react well to free falling. Their instincts tell them, “you are falling to your death, correct yourself before you splatter into the ground.” Following that same instinct, they will attempt to correct themselves which works in a gravity well, but not in zero g. They will flail, they will have less control of themselves which would gradually lead to even greater panicking, and a panicking astronaut is not a good thing to have locked inside your spaceship.

Now there was an example of this in an MLP fanfic where the winged member of the party experienced such a panic.

(You can watch it here, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4XXm1PZfcBo&list=PLY8fTIAEbE4IB8V8NoK9DQ0Q2HJCkQJ-9&index=10 I know that the video was long the relevant part starts at 30:19-35:27)

Now this was only a single member with wings that was a talented flyer. But what if that was a winged species version of an Apollo mission and there wasn’t a ground pounder to try and calm things down?

But once you find a way past that their are endless opportunities for a flying creature amount the stars. Just ask the birds of Ceres.

enter image description here

So, now for the big million credit question. How would you keep a member of a flying sentient species from panicking when they experience Zero G?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The question lacks perspective. These are sentient creatures. And they are astronauts so they are highly trained. Since they are trained to overcome any instincts involved with the high g's of takeoff it is entirely believable they are trained to overcome their instincts with zero g equally well. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 28, 2022 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ pigeons in zero gee youtube.com/watch?v=w4sZ3qe6PiI $\endgroup$
    – Allan
    May 28, 2022 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ Take 20 untrained humans up in a vomit comet, but don't tell them what the plane can do or give them any warning. Disconnect their lap belts one second before the fun starts. Make sure to take a video. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2022 at 12:29

2 Answers 2


A Stick!

enter image description here

The freefall instinct only kicks in if the animal recognizes itself being mid-air. So your bird people make sure they are standing on the ground when they enter zero gravity. The spaceship has artificial sticks for them to grasp with their talons until they become accustomed to the lack of gravity. Then they let go and fly around like these pigeons.

Remember your training.

These birds are smart enough to build a spaceship. So they are also smart enough to overcome their instincts with enough training. As part of astronaut training the birds practice doing maths problems while in freefall. This is easier than freefall practice for humans since no aircraft is required. The bird simply flies up high and then lets itself fall a few thousand feet. They have an earpiece that feeds them times tables.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Upvote for times tables earpiece as meditation / relaxation aid. May I study under you, rinpoche Daron? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    May 28, 2022 at 17:19

Birds need a Z-axis

Panic caused by not being human

About the video, the panic issue is also caused by the birds not being sentient. You show a zero G flight set up by humans, where zero G sets in suddenly. The bird will panic, because it does not know what to expect, like we do. The bird can't control its altitude and banking angle. Panic sets in because the zero G comes unexpectedly, in a small confinement. With sentient birds, who created the aircraft themselves, panic won't set in.

But birds will have a much larger problem in zero-G than we have !

Panic caused by disorientation

A bird will completely loose its sense of direction in zero-G space.

For land animals, the Z-axis can be ignored. Land animals tend to maintain their altitude at some height above ground. You stay on the ground. For birds and fish, the Z-axis plays a central role in movement planning. For birds, this will be completely messed up in a zero G environment. In a sense, land animals are flatlanders, birds are not.

Land animals will experience an extra degree of freedom, for birds this degree is messed up. They will need more time to adjust.

'Eyes are to be aligned horizontal

Our eyes are kept in horizontal alignment, because we permanently stand with 2 feet on the ground, looking forward. Birds have to do work to accomplish that. And they know what kind of work. In the air, they balance airflow, so their banking angle is zero. Their eyes will end up horizontal. In space, a bird will have to create forward movement in a vertical posture, looking up or down, instead of forward.. of it has to bend its neck. Very inconvenient.

Prevent lasting panic by providing more space

Now let's suppose the zero G situation is not temporary: there is enough room, there is air, no gravity. Inside space stations like ISS, humans loos muscle tissue. They get weaker. Same will happen with birds. Birds will find they don't need lift, they don't need to take off, they'll just jump and move forward, or up.

Sea gulls

In fact, there are many birds that would be quite suitable for space / zero G circumstances. These are birds don't flap their wings often, like seagull. They soar around, keeping their wings rigid, after finding an upward airflow. In a zero G environment big enough, there is no need for airflow. Once "up and down" are decided, the bird will experience a place with "upward airflow" everywhere. Paradise, actually. They'll get used to it.


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