Friday, April 27, 2007

Hawking Went Weightless

Yes, renowned physicist and wheelchair-ridin’ Stephen Hawking has gone weightless. As you may remember, back in December I blogged about how Hawking, upon receiving another honor, spoke about the need for humanity to extend their permanent presence beyond the reach of Earth and how he very much wished to go to space himself. Then, in March, the offer was extended to him to do just that. The first step was to go weightless, free of charge, in one of those “vomit comet” airplanes, like astronauts do during training. He was the first handicapped person to do so.

Story, with video:

It happened yesterday, and he loved it. How could he not? Bound to the confines of a wheelchair anytime outside of bed, restricted to the cruelty of gravity. Suddenly he’s rolling free at zero-G. The few working muscles in his face were smiling as broadly as could be managed, as you may have seen in the video of his flight. He went weightless a total of eight times.

Said Hawking, after the flight: “"It was amazing. The zero-G part was wonderful and the full-G part was no problem. I could have gone on and on. Space, here I come."

Hawking is likely to be one of the first passengers on the coming space tourist agency flights by Richard Branson some time in late 2009 or 2010.

Quadriplegics in space! You go, Stephen! Maybe the experience will give you a new outlook on your Theory of Everything.

Addendum: A better video: