Not necessarily inexpensive, though. If I wanted to, I could drop my remaining 231 pounds more or less instantaneously. But the effect would only last about four minutes and it would cost about $4000 bucks:
Zero gravity, once an exclusive playground for astronauts and select scientists, is no longer out of reach to everyday people. Millionaires, doctors, and teachers are feeling the fleeting freedom of weightlessness. The price is under $4,000 for nearly five minutes in zero-G.
"It's the wave of the future," said Syracuse University public administration and space policy professor W. Henry Lambright. "It's part of the maturity of the space program."
In the more than 40 years of zero-gravity flights, beginning with astronauts, the world's two largest space agencies have flown thousands of scientists, engineers, astronauts, and even the cast and crew of the movie Apollo 13, said Alan Ladwig, former
NASA associate administrator. Ladwig, now Washington space operations chief for Northrop Grumman Corp., estimates 50,000 people may have flown in zero gravity.
Five planes create zero-G conditions. NASA has one. The European Space Agency has one. The Russians have one. Two are commercially operated in the United States by Zero Gravity Corp. of Dania Beach, Fla.
Besides Zero Gravity Corp., there are at least three other companies that sell zero-G flights to tourists, including Novespace of France, Space Adventures Ltd. of Virginia, and Incredible Adventures Inc. of Florida. Those companies must arrange for a jet either from Zero Gravity Corp. or the European or Russian space agencies.
People who shell out for zero-gravity flights will no doubt also be in the market for sub-orbital and even orbital flights, once they become affordable. And these are the same folks who will be booking overnight stays in space hotels.
Personally, I'm holding out for a Carnival Cruise to Mars and the asteroid belt, but that might be a while yet. After all, that midnight buffet would be an interesting experience in a zero-g or low-g environment.