WASHINGTON – The following is a statement from Alan Stern, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington, regarding renowned physicist Stephen Hawking’s flight aboard Zero Gravity Corporation’s Boeing 727.

“Stephen Hawking’s flight to experience zero gravity is exciting. I can say from flying hundreds of parabolas aboard NASA KC-135s myself that the experience is eye-opening, exhilarating and personally fulfilling. My own experiences primarily were participating in research in space motion sickness and later, low-gravity accretion. But it’s the 21st century now, and I expect more and more scientists to be conducting research in zero gravity, and even in space, as new vehicles and venues for such research open.

“Space is as much a place for scientists, I believe, as the arctic, Antarctic, and the deep ocean. And Dr. Hawking is showing the way.

“I want to extend my congratulations to him on his first taste of zero gravity and offer my best wishes for the realization of his dream of launching into space itself.”