The most brilliant theoretical physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking has been invited by Richard Branson to join the Virgin Galactic.
In October 2014, Branson’s first test flight ended in tragedy when the VSS Enterprise crashed, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury. But support for the commercial Galactic flight hasn’t dulled. With big names Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousafzai voicing their support. Even Harrison Ford posed in the cockpit for the launch of VSS Unity’s in February.
Still enthused by the idea of space travel, Hawking has already started the preparation required for the journey, completing a zero gravity flight.
The 75 year, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at 21 has never given up on his dream of space travel. If his health permits, he will be the first person with ALS to travel into space.
"And I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space. I have already completed a zero gravity flight which allowed me to float weightless. 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. Since that day I have never changed my mind." He said.
No date has been set for a commercial Virgin Galactic flight as Branson’s project is still in the testing phase. But Branson expressed his hope to take Hawking into space back in 2015:
“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. 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.”
Hawking has been an advocate for Virgin space travel for some time and last year unveiled the official name of the new space ship in a short four-minute video. He explains that the new ship: VSS Unity “will help bring new meaning to our place on Earth and to our responsibilities as its stewards, and it will help us to recognise our place and our future in the cosmos — which is where I believe our ultimate destiny lies.”
Hawking has dedicated his life to studying the universe and its origins from earth, it is only fitting that he should experience the wonder of the galaxy up close.
I have said in the past ‘Look up at the stars and not down at your feet’, but I believe that ‘looking up’ will no longer be a requirement to see the universe in all its glory.
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