Steven Hawking is to experience zero gravity after being awarded a free trip on a flight used to train astronauts for space travel.
California-based Zero Gravity Corp has given the Cambridge professor a seat on one of its planes, which climbs and then dives thousands of feet at a time giving passengers up to 30 seconds of free fall.
"As someone who has studied gravity and black holes all of my life, I am excited to experience, firsthand, weightlessness and a zero-gravity environment, " said Hawking.
"I am thankful to Zero Gravity Corp for making this experience available to the general public, especially for disabled individuals."
The flight will take place later in the year, after doctors have given Hawking the OK. The 65 year-old, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, will be strapped into his wheelchair and doctors will be on hand in case of an emergency.
The flight uses a specially outfitted Boeing 727-200 with the seats stripped out and padding on the walls and floor. Such flights have been dubbed 'vomit comets' by some because of the nausea that zero gravity can induce.
Other seats on the flight have been donated to charities such as the Easter Seals, the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation, the X Prize Foundation and Augie's Quest to be auctioned off for fundraising.
Steven Hawking to try zero gravity
By Iain Thomson on Mar 2, 2007 8:26AM