Thursday, March 01, 2007
Quadriplegic physicist Stephen Hawking will take the first step toward his dream of traveling to space on April 26, when he rides a modified Boeing 727 used to simulate weightlessness for astronauts and adventurers. The plane is operated in cooperation with NASA by Zero Gravity Corp. Jay Buckey, M.D., a former astronaut, told an MSNBC interviewer the experience would have a"good side and a bad side" for Hawking. "Being weightless like that doesn't require you to have that much strength in your limbs, so in that sense it would be freeing," he said. Hawking will need to be closely monitored, though, to watch the stress on his cardiovascular system and avoid injuries when transitioning from weightlessness back to normal gravity.