Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

Stephen Hawking To Make Zero Gravity Flight

By Carolyn E. Price     Mar 1, 2007 in Technology
In what can be called a warm-up ride to his planned trip into space, Stephen Hawking will take a zero-gravity flight in April this year.
Renowned theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, who authored the best-selling book, "A Brief History of Time," soon will experience a brief history with weightlessness.
Hawkings has released a statment and says, "As someone who has studied gravity and black holes all of my life, I am excited to experience first hand weightlessness and a zero-gravity environment."
The modified Boeing 727 generally soars to 32,000 feet at a sharp angle and then plunges 8,000 feet so passengers can experience 25- second snippets of zero gravity during the descent. As the plane climbs, passengers experience 25 seconds of being pushed down hard, as they feel 1.8 times the normal pull of the Earth.
Hawking, who recently turned 65, is a a wheelchair and suffers from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Officials at Zero Gravity Corporation said he plans on taking a weightless flight on April 26. Zero Gravity Corporation is a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based space tourism and entertainment company, and their flights take off and return on a landing strip at the Kennedy Space Center.
Discussions have been held between Dr. Hawking's doctors and the company's doctors to ensure that it would be safe for him to try this flight. He is almost completely paralyzed and is very frail after decades in a wheelchair.
Zero Gravity will be giving the British cosmologist, Cambridge professor and best-selling author a flight for free; a flight like this usually costs around $3,750. The company is also going to auction off two seats on the flight with Mr. Hawkings' by two charities. Peter H. Diamandis, the chief executive of Zero Gravity said that "the idea of giving the world's expert on gravity the opportunity to experience zero gravity" was just too irresistible.
Hawking announced last year, on his 65th birthday, that he wants to go into space in 2009 on one of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic's yet to be completed space planes. Branson has decided he will personally finance Hawking's ticket into space - a flight that would normally cost $200,000. "He's one of the greatest physicists of all time," said Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn earlier this year.
Dr. Hawking wants to encourage the public to get interested in spaceflight, because he believes it is critical to the future of humanity.
"I also want to show, that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit."
Last summer, at a news conference in Hong Kong, Dr. Hawking said that humanity's ultimate survival depends upon colonizing the solar system and beyond. "Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of."
More about Stephen Hawking, Zero gravity, Flight
Latest News
Top News