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Stephen Hawking Will Travel To Space (skynews.com.au) 77

Professor Stephen Hawking says he is planning to travel into space on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic. From a report: The physicist and cosmologist, 75, said he had not expected to have the opportunity to experience space but that the Virgin boss had offered him a seat. Discussing the meaning of happiness on Good Morning Britain, he said: "My three children have brought me great joy. And I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space. I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic, and I said yes immediately."
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Stephen Hawking Will Travel To Space

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  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Monday March 20, 2017 @06:00PM (#54077669) Homepage
    Awesome that Stephen Hawking gets a chance to go into (the edge) of space, but is he up for the rigors of Spaceflight? Zero-G shouldn't be an issue, but some positive G's on the way up and way down. Hopefully this has been thought through ...
    • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @06:09PM (#54077763)

      With his disease, he should have been dead decades ago. Even without it, I wouldn't have expected him to be around too much longer. If he wants to die unaware after blacking out due to high G acceleration on the off chance he'll get to see the Earth from space and has the opportunity to do it... good for him.

      I wouldn't insure him on his trip, but I wouldn't stop him, either.

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @06:24PM (#54077907) Homepage

      I don't think Virgin Galactic's flight plan involves nearly the kind of g forces one experiences on a rocket. It's basically a plane that goes really really high. Take a look at the flight plan for SpaceShipTwo, which was the previous generation. [space.com]. (The image came from here [space.com])

      I really don't know what I'm talking about, so this might be TOTALLY wrong, but: It says it accelerates to 2500mph over 70 seconds. 2500mph divided by 70 seconds, in meters per second, is about 1.5Gs.

      • by vikrant ( 198696 )

        SpaceShipTwo can accelerate as much as 3.8 g during accent and up to 6 g during reentry. I don't think they will be sending him up if there is even the slightest risk to his health.

        Reference: http://www.parabolicarc.com/2009/12/07/spaceshiptwo-whiteknighttwo-specs-flight-profile/

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe they can send Dr. Hawking's old grad student, Nathan Myrvhold in his place.

    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @06:26PM (#54077925)

      It has been.

      Many years ago Peter Dimandis took Hawking on a ride in a private version of the Vomit Comet, where they flew up really high, put the aircraft into freefall so the occupants would also go into freefall, and then leveled off and flew up again, etc. Same training that is provided to astronauts and is used to test machinery and processes in zero-G where they only need a few minutes of effective 0G.

      Diamandis was worried about how Hawking's body would handle it, but apparently Hawking had the time of his life and they made so many passes that they had to stop because they were getting low on fuel, not because Hawking couldn't take it.

      While there is probably added risk to Hawking compared to the Vomit Comit, as the G-forces imparted are going to be higher at least on the ascent phase, if they're calculable and can be studied then it may be safe enough.

    • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @07:18PM (#54078257) Homepage
      I think he will be okay. He's a tough old guy who has lived for decades with a disease that would have killed a lesser person. I hope he enjoys every minute he has left before he leaves us for good.
      • by kuzb ( 724081 )
        By this you mean he's been given care and equipment quite above and beyond what normal people get access to. Tough isn't the right word. You're looking for "protected".
        • The man was supposed to be dead in 1965. Care saved him from pneumonia in 1985, but doesn't account for the 22 years he lived in between being given a two-year window after being told he had ALS and him getting pneumonia at CERN in '85. He was tough to have lasted over two decades beyond his initial projection. He was protected from near-certain death in 1985.
          • by kuzb ( 724081 )
            The man gets the best medical treatment money can buy with no wait times. Can you say the same? Can any of us?

            His situation is tough. He on the other hand is lucky enough to have top-notch round-the-clock medical care and supervision because of his status. I wouldn't begrudge him this because he is one of the important scientific minds of this age, but stop trying to make him out to be some kind of biological superman. He isn't.
    • by MouseR ( 3264 )

      "space" is quite marginal as far as VG is concerned.

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @06:06PM (#54077727) Homepage

    I guess you could call this a stunt as Dr. Hawking, at 75 and with his health issues would not be considered a likely astronaut but I think it's great that he is given this opportunity.

    Too many people have gone (Arthur C. Clarke as one) that fully expected to experience spaceflight during their lives and it's nice to see Dr. Hawking will get that opportunity.

    From somebody hoping that one day their ship will come in and get the same experience.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @06:18PM (#54077849) Journal

      at 75 and with his health issues

      Since his days are numbered, maybe he figures it's worth the risk, and being the first civilian to die in space maybe has a record-book appeal to it. Go in style. Beats the nursing home.

    • Oh, it's definitely a stunt - Branson needs publicity to divert attention away from the fact that SpaceShip Two is well over a decade late and still at least a year (and very likely more) from operations.

    • Too many people have gone (Arthur C. Clarke as one) that fully expected to experience spaceflight during their lives and it's nice to see Dr. Hawking will get that opportunity

      You touched a nerve there. Of all people I would of been very happy to see him experience space for himself. Rest in peace Mr Clarke

  • by WrongMonkey ( 1027334 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @06:16PM (#54077835)
    It is very generous of Richard Branson to offer a free flight on his imaginary spaceship. And to do so in such a discreet manner surely means this is not a ploy get free headlines for his struggling company.
    • Not headlines, but to stave off charges from the US Office That Deals With of Such Things that his spaceships are not ADA compliant. I mean, we almost lost a bunch of UCLA video taped lectures, we wouldn't want to have to shut down the only operating space flight system until they built a ramp ...

      What better way to prove ADA compliance than this?

  • by burhop ( 2883223 ) on Monday March 20, 2017 @08:16PM (#54078593)

    ... I'd so chip in a few $$ for this.

    Worst case, Dr. Hawkings dies doing what he loves.

    Best case, aliens pick him up, think humans are way smarter than we are, and appoint us leaders of the Galaxy.

    • Actually, Hawking is afraid of aliens. That seems a little weird for a guy who has spent his life studying the physics of the heavens, but there ya go.

    • aliens pick him up, think humans are way smarter than we are, and appoint us leaders of the Galaxy.

      What ?! One Trump isn't enough for ya ?

  • That was a badly written story, most of it was about how Hawking hates Trump. Not much about his upcoming space flight. It should have had some information about when VG expects to be able to launch the first trip with paying customers. For all we know, Hawking will be long dead by then.
  • When?

    While I hold him in high regard and wish him the very best, I suspect by the time the travel actually happens, he will be travelling there in an urn.

  • And he's bringin' Doomsday!

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