If traveling into space is a dream of yours, hold tight — we’re almost ready to send tourists to the stars. But while we wait for spaceflight companies to finalize their tourism programs, you can get a little taste of what it’s like to be in weightlessness right here on Earth. Or rather, just above it.
Since 2004, the Zero Gravity Corporation (Zero-G) has been offering passengers the chance to experience simulated weightlessness through a flight on a modified Boeing 727 aircraft. That plane, nicknamed G-Force One, flies in parabolic arcs, at the top of which passengers inside the plane “float” in weightlessness for nearly 30 seconds. During that period of weightlessness, you’re free to do somersaults, soar like Superman, or simply hover about in the wide-open, padded cabin.
At the apex of the arcs, you and the plane are actually in free fall, just like a skydiver. But since you’re falling at the same rate as the vehicle around you, your senses can’t tell that you’re falling (for instance, you don’t feel the rush of air like a skydiver), and so your brain is tricked into thinking you’re floating. Orbiting satellites like the International Space Station are also technically falling back to Earth, but much more slowly, keeping astronauts floating for longer periods than passengers in G-Force One. They also get regular boosts to maintain their altitude above the Earth. According to astronauts, these kinds of short weightlessness experiences are pretty much exactly what it feels like to be up in space — and, in fact, NASA uses such parabolic flights to train their astronauts for missions.
Typically, Zero-G shuttles G-Force One to different airports across the country throughout the year, allowing people nationwide to experience weightlessness, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company temporarily halted all flights. Today, however, Zero-G announced its revised 2020 schedule — plus new coronavirus safety protocols to protect passengers.
“We have spent the last few months working on our new website and determining the safest possible way to offer incredible weightless experiences,” Zero-G CEO Matt Gohd said in a statement. The new safety protocols include pre-flight temperature checks for all passengers, mandatory mask usage throughout the experience, and a limit of 70 percent capacity on all flights. And as with most modern aircrafts, G-Force One will also replace all in-cabin air with fresh air every three minutes.
The entire Zero-G experience costs a cool $6,700 this year, which includes breakfast, training, a flight with somewhere between seven and eight minutes of weightlessness, a flight suit and mask, and of course, souvenir photos and videos. While that may seem expensive, consider that a ticket to space through Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin will likely run you about $250,000. For those interested in booking their own weightless experience, check out Zero-G’s 2020 flight schedule below to see when G-Force One will visit an airport near you.
- Long Beach, California (LGB): Aug. 16
- San Jose, California (SJC): Aug. 22
- Seattle, Washington (BFI): Aug. 29, Aug. 30
- Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS): Sept. 5
- Newark, New Jersey (EWR): Sept. 12, Sept. 13, Sept. 14, Sept. 15, and Sept.16
- Washington, D.C. (IAD): Sept.19 and Sept. 20
- Houston, Texas (HOU): Oct. 9
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL): Nov. 7
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