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Remembering Stephen Hawking's zero-G journey

Zero Gravity Corp. via AP file

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking floats on a zero-gravity jet in April of 2007. The modified 727 carried Hawking, a handful of his physicians, nurses, and dozens of others on eight parabolic dips.

Science Museum handout via Reuters

Physicist Stephen Hawking is seen in his office at the University of Cambridge in December.

When I heard about Stephen Hawking’s upcoming 70th birthday, I immediately started searching for images of the world famous physicist. It didn’t take me long to stumble across this surprise in our archives.

In April of 2007, Hawking was only expected to take a single half-minute float in weightlessness, but he ended up taking eight separate trips, including two where he made weightless flips like "a gold-medal gymnast," said Peter Diamandis, chairman of Zero Gravity Corp., the company that operated the jet.

"It was amazing," Hawking told reporters after his trip aboard the modified Boeing 727. "The zero-G part was wonderful, and the high-G part was no problem. I could have gone on and on.

"Space, here I come,” he said.

April 26, 2007: Stephen Hawking leaves his wheelchair behind to experience the effects of zero-G. NBC's Tom Costello reports.