On Thursday April 26, 2007, Stephen Hawking, the physicist, will get to experience weightlessness. MSNBC reports:
Hawking, the world-famous physicist who is known for his theories on black holes and the origins of the universe, is in Florida this week to go on a zero-gravity flight, which he sees as an initial step toward his dream of flying in space.
On Thursday, the 65-year-old genius, who has a degenerative nerve disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, will roll his high-tech wheelchair out to a converted Boeing 727, take off from Kennedy Space Center’s shuttle landing strip and be guided into position for what’s basically a roller-coaster ride in the sky. During the top half of the plane’s parabolic ups and downs, Hawking and his fellow fliers will be able to float in the air for about 15 to 20 seconds at a time.
It will be the first time in decades that he will be free from his wheelchair.
When SpaceShipTwo makes its first commercial flights in a year or two from Mojave, he hopes to ride on that. So this is preparation for that future flight for him.