Rutan Goes Weightless

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The odds-on favorite to win the private race for space has gone weightless. Burt Rutan took a spin (and probably a whole lot of other maneuvers) aboard Zero Gravity Corp.'s modified Boeing 727, which recently received FAA approval to provide NASA-style parabolic flights that give passengers up to 30 seconds of weightlessness. "It was really amazing. Unbelievably cool," Rutan -- who may hope to pioneer space tourism -- is quoted as saying in press release issued by Zero Gravity. Rutan is no stranger to the founder of Zero Gravity. Peter Diamandis is also the founder of the X Prize Foundation, which is putting up the $10 million prize for the first privately funded, manned suborbital space program. Rutan's SpaceShipOne is scheduled to try and claim the prize with at least two consecutive flights to 100 km in altitude within two weeks at the end of September and early October. "Now he (Rutan) is ready for his suborbital flight," Diamandis said.