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Stephen Hawking Goes To Space On Virgin Galactic?

First Posted: Mar 21, 2017 05:07 AM EDT
Professor Stephen Hawking
Celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking has recently said that he has accepted an invitation from Richard Branson to travel into space on a Virgin Galactic flight.
(Photo : The Guardian/YouTube screenshot)

Renowned physicist Professor Stephen Hawking is among the eager lineup of space tourists who will be making a voyage into space -- aboard a Virgin Galactic suborbital flight. In a recent interview on Good Morning Britain, the noted cosmologist said that he has wanted to visit space ever since flying on a plane that simulated zero gravity aboard, letting him feel weightlessness in the process.

"My ambition is to fly into space," Stephen Hawking said. "I thought no one would take me, but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic." Richard Branson's spaceflight company Virgin Galactic aims to facilitate space tourism by taking people into space on commercial missions.

Virgin Galactic has been aiming to fly tourists into space on SpaceShipTwo for more than a decade now. However, technical difficulties and a failed test flight in the past have indefinitely delayed the first tourist launch date of Virgin Galactic. A test flight in October 2014 proved to be fatal, leading to the death of the pilot. Test flights were, however, resumed in 2016.

The company’s SpaceShipTwo craft has been made to give passengers the experience of a real spaceflight, similar to what NASA astronauts experience. The ship will be launched from a carrier plane at an appropriate suborbital altitude, where it will travel out of Earth’s atmosphere and hang out for a few minutes, letting the passengers enjoy the view. Tourists aboard the suborbital flight will also experience 5 minutes of weightlessness during the course of their time on SpaceShipTwo, before descending back to Earth where it will make a landing like an airliner.

Currently, there is a wait list of 700 people who are eagerly looking forward to experience a space flight. A ticket is reported to cost $250,000 for Virgin Galactic’s maiden flight. According to a Yahoo report, neither Hawking nor Branson have mentioned any details or specifics about the process of getting the physicist -- who suffers from a form of ALS -- aboard the flight.

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