Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is prepping for an out-of-this-world flight into space with Richard Branson‘s commercial spaceline, Virgin Galactic… by taking a zero-gravity ride first.
“I have already completed a zero-gravity flight which allowed me to float, weightless,” Hawking told “Good Morning Britain” Friday.
“But my ultimate ambition is to fly into space. I thought no one would take me, but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic and I said ‘yes’ immediately.”
Hawking, 75, got a feeling for weightlessness courtesy of GoZeroG, an outfit that has modified a Boeing 727 to create a zero-gravity environment allowing you to float, flip and soar as if you were in space.
Just look at the fun he’s having:
“It was amazing. The zero-g part was wonderful. I could have gone on and on. Space, here I come,” Hawking said.
Branson extended an invitation back in 2015 to Hawking, whom he has long admired.
“Professor Stephen Hawking is one of the people I admire most in the world, an undisputed genius who has opened our eyes to the wonders of the universe, while also happening to be a kind and delightful man,” Branson said in a statement at the time. “He is the only person I have given a free ticket with Virgin Galactic, and he is signed up to fly as a Future Astronaut with us if his health permits it.”
The actual flight into space on Virgin Galactic is still many years into the future, and Hawking’s health — he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21 and has become gradually paralyzed for decades — are of significant concern for such a journey.