Stephen Hawking Plans Prelude to the Ride of His Life

New York Times reports that Dr. Stephen Hawking will take a zero-gravity ride out of Cape Canaveral on a so-called vomit comet, a padded aircraft that flies a roller-coaster trajectory to produce periods of weightlessness.

He is getting his lift gratis, from the Zero Gravity Corporation, which has been flying thrill seekers on a special Boeing 727-200 since 2004 at $3,500 a trip.

Peter H. Diamandis, chief executive of Zero G, said that “the idea of giving the world’s expert on gravity the opportunity to experience zero gravity” was irresistible.

In some ways, this is only a prelude. Dr. Hawking will take a longer, higher flight in 2009 on a space plane being developed by Virgin Galactic, which seeks to take six passengers to an altitude of 70 miles.

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