Zero-gravity flights ready for take-off

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Consumer zero-gravity flights are scheduled to begin next month after US company Zero-G completes a six-city promotional tour with its modified Boeing 727-200. The company has received US Federal Aviation Administration approval to provide commercial zero-gravity flights using an aircraft operated by cargo charter specialist Amerijet International.

Flights are available for $2,950 per person, and Ft Lauderdale, Florida-based Zero-G is also offering the charter aircraft to corporations for team-building or customer-reward flights. As well as the public, the company is targeting the entertainment industry - scenes for The Matrix movies were filmed on the aircraft - as well as research applications.

The modified 727-200C convertible, G-Force One, has a palletised interior that can be loaded and unloaded via the cargo door. The standard layout provides seating for 27 passengers and six crew and an 18.3m (60ft) -long "floating zone" with energy-absorbing floor padding. The interior can be configured for filming or research.

The aircraft is dedicated to zero-g flights and has accelerometers in the cockpit and a modified hydraulic system providing continuous pressure during reduced-gravity parabolic flight. Each 2h commercial zero-g flight, conducted between 22,000ft and 32,000ft (6,700-9,700m) in reserved airspace over the Gulf of Mexico, will include parabolas producing Martian (one-third g), lunar (one-sixth g) and zero-gravity conditions.