A US company is offering frustrated astronauts and would-be space tourists without the fortunes of Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson the chance to experience zero gravity on flights aboard a purpose-modified Boeing 727.
A total of 28 people will experience intervals of up to 30 seconds of zero gravity in what will be the first flight of the Zero-G firm from Miami, which, with all seats sold, plans to take off on January 29 from the executive airport by Opa Locka.
The ship will exceed 9,150 meters of altitude.
“We fly at the same altitude as any other commercial plane, and in fact, we board at an airport and (passengers) go through security checks, but the big difference is that on a conventional flight you don’t experience zero gravity and with us you do”, explained the commercial director of the company, Noelle Pearson.
In the so-called G-Force One, passengers start the flight sitting in the back and have the entire passenger cabin to float during up to 15 parabolas (up and down displacements) that make the effect of weightlessness feel “as if we’re in space”, according to some ex-astronauts who have flown in the plane.
Over the course of the five-hour flight, passengers clad in blue spacesuits experience a total of seven to eight minutes of weightlessness for the “modest” sum of $8,200 (plus 5% tax).
THE ACCESSIBLE SPACE FOR EVERYONE
“Zero-G definitely fits into the field of space tourism, insofar as we’re trying to make space more accessible to everyone,” Pearson said.
The price of Zero-G tickets is located in a much lower orbit than those of companies such as Virgin Galactic, by the British Richard Branson, and Blue Origin, by the founder of Amazon, the American, Jeff Bezos, two billionaires who gave themselves the taste of space tourism in 2021.
According to some specialized media, Virgin Galactic, which with its Unity ship has reached up to 80 kilometers high, that is, to the “frontiers” of outer space, charges each passenger about 450,000 dollars per trip
Last July, an anonymous buyer shelled out $28 million to be on the inaugural flight of the New Shepard alongside Bezos, reaching about 100 kilometers high, where some scientists believe the divide between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space lies.
For his part, the billionaire Jared Isaacman, the commander of the Inspiration4 mission, paid in 2021 for all the expenses of what is so far the first completely civilian space mission in history, the amount of which has not transpired but is presumed to be dozens. of millions of dollars.
Space lovers with shorter budgets will have from 2024 the “stratospheric capsule” of the American World View, based in Arizona, which offers flights up to 30,000 meters high for about 50,000 dollars, according to the company’s website.
In this way, it is no longer necessary to be an astronaut to go to space, as stressed by the Zero-G executive, a company that carried out a training trip with the four crew members of the Inspiration4 and others with some of those who have traveled with Blue Origin. .
“It’s exciting that Zero-G is a part of all this,” Pearson said.
With operations beginning in 2004, which also include research flights that will later be carried out on the International Space Station (ISS), as well as productions for film and television, Zero-G does not rule out flying beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, but for now, its aim is to increase its fleet with at least three planes.
A FLIGHT THAT STARTED 20 YEARS AGO
The company indicates that the demand for space tourism flights skyrocketed from the race between Branson and Bezos to see who flew first (Virgin) and highest (Blue Origin).
A “millionaires’ race”, as some media have described it, which has its antecedent in another millionaire, the American businessman Dennis Tito, who in 2001 paid about 20 million dollars to board a Russian Soyuz ship and spend seven days orbiting the Earth inside of the ISS.
Tito was followed by the South African millionaire Mark Shuttleworth, in 2002, and the American businessman Gregory Olsen, in 2005, while the American of Iranian origin Anousheh Ansari became in September 2006 the fourth space tourist, or “participant of a space flight”, and at the same time the first woman who paid for an orbital flight.
In addition to these private trips to the ISS, suborbital trips such as those undertaken by the Bezos and Branson companies have gained popularity.
In this panorama, Pearson points out that Zero-G is emerging as the first step for those who seek to scratch the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere or, of course, become astronauts one day.