Stephen Hawking is planning a warm-up for the flight he has booked on Virgin Galactic in 2008 or thereabouts. He'll be sampling a little bit of zero gravity next month:
Hawking, surrounded by a medical entourage, is to 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 Zero Gravity, a company that 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.
More on Hawking's prospects for private space travel–and yours–here.