I spoke this weekend with lunalight4r5d, the winner of the $75,100 eBay auction for last Thursday’s zero-g flight with physicist Stephen Hawking. Lunalight4r5d, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave me the best endorsement of the zero-g experience I’ve heard yet.
“It’s not really like being weightless in water,” she said. “Water has its own weight. You’re still experiencing something like a pressure. But this is the feeling of no pressure.” Going weightless made her realize “how rarely we experience an entirely new physical sensation over your whole body, and that was just so different. I couldn’t have really anticipated what it would feel like.”
In fact, she said, it wasn’t until she got back on the ground that she “understood the magic” of the experience. “It was like I had gained this momentary super power that I couldn’t access any more. I felt like I should be able to just launch off the ground and go flying across the hotel lobby.”
Like flying in a dream, Zero-G Corp. founder Peter Diamandis has described the weightless experience, and lunalight4r5d agreed.
In dreams, we’re pure spirit, freed of the constraints of our bodies. For Hawking, unable to move most of his body because of a degenerative nerve disease, the difference between free fall and life under gravity seems more pronounced. But, really, his is the fate we all share: shackled to the ground, barely able to lift ourselves.
Hawking and other visionaries have said that we must settle space if we’re to avoid the fate of the dinosaurs, and that may be true. But their space dream is equally inspired by the desire to set free the human spirit.
Lunalight4r5d comes from a family of philanthropists, and the eBay auction presented an irresistible opportunity to support the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation, one of her favorite charities.
Sharing the Zero-G flight with one of this century’s greatest minds pushed an already sublime experience into the realm of the surreal. “I really almost felt like I was a person reading about it in some history book in the future. The red apple floating around as a tribute to Isaac Newton, and just connecting him to the greats of history,” she said of Hawking, “that was the most phenomenal experience.”