World-renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking is going to space with the help of Virgin Airlines. Given the light of Hawking’s Lou Gehrig’s disease, his voyage to space will open new dimensions for medical science to understand the disease better in zero-gravity.
Back in 2015, Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group, said that one day he hoped to be able to take Stephen Hawking to space. In the released statement, Sir Branson noted that he admires Hawking for his work towards theoretical physics.
“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.”
During his recent conversation with Good Morning Britain, Stephen Hawking said that as a theoretical physicist, who spent the last 50 years of his life studying the origin of the universe, he always wanted to travel to space but never expected such an opportunity to come to his doorstep.
Stephen Hawking continued by noting that he looks forward to the space voyage with Virgin Galactic and even compared flying into space with the same joy that his three children have brought him.
“My three children have brought me great joy – and I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space.”
Professor Hawking further told Good Morning Britain that he accepted Richard Branson’s offer immediately.
“Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic, and I said yes immediately”
Stephen Hawking’s Lou Gehrig’s Disease:
Stephen Hawking was only 21 when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease, that has gradually paralyzed him over the decades. During his final year at Oxford, he experienced increasing clumsiness including a fall on some stairs and difficulties rowing. In the late 1960s, Stephen Hawking’s physical abilities declined and doctors gave him a life expectancy of two years.
During the time of his diagnostics, the doctors did not expect that Stephen Hawking will be able to see his 25th birthday but as it turned out, the 75-year-old scientist is now heading to space.
Apparently, Stephen Hawking will not be the oldest scientist to travel to space, but he will be the first one to go to space with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Traveling to space is a risky business, the process will turn out to be more difficult considering Professor Hawking’s Lou Gehrig’s disease. His voyage to space will surely help medical science as it will provide an opportunity to study how ALS works in space when the renowned professor will be traveling in zero-gravity.
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo:
Virgin Group’s space voyager, Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo is a reusable, winged spacecraft designed in such a way that it will be able to carry up to eight people (including two pilots) into space. Back in 2016, Stephen Hawking talked about SpaceShipTwo, the VSS Unity. During a four-minute recorded video, Hawking went on to explain the VSS Unity.
“[It] will help bring new meaning to our place on Earth and to our responsibilities as its stewards, and it will help us to recognize our place and our future in the cosmos — which is where I believe our ultimate destiny lies.”
The time and day of Stephen Hawking’s space voyage with Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo is still not officially revealed, but given his dedication towards cosmos and his discoveries that helped theoretical physicists from around the world to understand the laws of universe, it will be highly anticipated to see how the author of A Brief History of Time will spend his time in space.
[Featured Image by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation]