Renowned British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking is planning to visit space onboard Virgin Galactic spacecraft. Hawking, 75, said that he wanted to visit space ever since experiencing a weightless flight aboard a plane that flies parabolic loops to simulate zero gravity.
"My ambition is to fly into space," remarked Hawking, speaking with a computerized voice from his wheelchair. "I thought no one would take me, but Virgin founder Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic."
"My three children have brought me great joy - and I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space," the leading cosmologist and physicist said.
Virgin Galactic has been aiming to fly tourists into space for more than a decade, aboard SpaceShipTwo. The flight plan calls for SpaceShipTwo to be lifted to 50,000 feet aboard a carrier ship, called WhiteKnightTwo, before being released. SpaceShipTwo will then rocket into suborbital space, so that tourists can experience five minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth.
A fatal test flight in October 2014 and technical difficulties have been responsible for pushing the first tourist launch date of Virgin Galactic forward indefinitely. Virgin resumed test flights in 2016 and has a reported wait list of 700 people waiting for their chance to experience space travel. A ticket on Virgin Galactic's flight is reported to cost $250,000.