HOUSTON, Texas - Space tourism company Zero-G Experience is inviting Borderland residents to find out what it's like to be weightless in space, but only going up 36,000 feet in a plane. In March, the company will be in Houston and Austin, offering people the chance to board a specially-equipped Boeing 727 and float in zero gravity for a lot less than the millionaires and celebrities have paid to fly aboard a Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic spacecraft.
Jack O'Neill, Zero-G Experience Director of Strategic Initiatives, appeared on ABC-7 at 4 on Monday. O'Neill explained the company was founded in the mid-1990s with the idea of creating a research arena to look into weightless fluids and how they'll interact before actually sending it into space. That idea took 11 years of FAA approval. Now Zero-G Experience is the only company to offer parabolic flights to the general public.
O'Neill explained what a parabolic flight is. "So all of our pilots are specially trained to fly the plane in this parabolic movement, and they pitch the nose of the plane up for about 45 seconds, where all the passengers inside the capsule are lying down, and they pull about 1.8 G's, and then you get a weightless moment when they pull over the top and you get about 30 to 40 seconds of true weightlessness when you're up there. And so on all of our commercial flights, we do that 15 times. So in total, you're getting about seven to eight minutes of zero gravity time up there."
O'Neill said while the parabolic flight is the same as what NASA uses to train astronauts, it's not like what astronauts referred to as "the vomit comet."
"While some people do get sick, it's often honestly really rare to see that happen," O'Neill said. "We do have trained flight attendants as well as specialty coaches on board that are able to remedy the situation. But the majority of people coming off the flight are doing so with a smile and not really worried about getting sick."
While it's not cheap to fly with Zero-G Experience, it is much less expensive than a flight on Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic.
"The price for our consumer flights is at $8,200 per seat," said O'Neill. "We do have flights available on our website at gozerog.com. Those flights span all the way from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, we'll be in Houston on March 19, in Austin on March 20, all the way out to Long Beach, so we do hit most of the country."