As many of you are aware, Richard Garriott accompanied Professor Stephen Hawking on his amazing zero-gravity flight, and he describes what it was like in his latest blog entry over at the Tabula Rasa site. An excerpt can be read below:
My girlfriend Kelly and I have just returned from an incredible couple of days at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with Professor Stephen Hawking, which included participating in his historic zero-gravity flight where we all experienced the freedom of weightlessness aboard a specially equipped 727 flying parabolic trajectories. While I have been a fan of Dr. Hawking for some time, I became more and more impressed with him (and his staff) the more time we spent with them.
Professor Hawking has had a lifelong desire to travel into space, and zero-g flights are now among the first steps in that journey. Also organized as a benefit for several charitable organizations, the Hawking flight raised over $144,000 for these charities.
For Wednesday, April 25, we prepared to do a full dress rehearsal of how the flight operations would unfold. From the outset it was very clear that the ZERO-G team and Hawking’s personal team planned this expedition well. As we rehearsed all of the activities that we would repeat the next day, it was quickly evident that this would work well and be very exciting and comfortable for Professor Hawking. Kelly and I are both experienced parabolic flyers, but this was our first trip aboard G-Force 1, one of the planes owned by ZERO-G—a company I was one of the earliest investors in about a dozen years ago.
Professor Hawking had a very busy Wednesday himself, first helping kick off the event by meeting with the group who would be flying with him Thursday. While we were flying rehearsal flights he was answering interview questions from the large group of media who had come to witness the event, and after our test flights we had a reception in his honor where he gave a great lecture on his journey through science and his passion for space travel. Personally, I was excited to see him discussing work that is now well beyond black holes, including very recent thinking on theories about the origins of the universe.