30062007 British physicist Stephen Hawking (C) is assisted as he floats during a ZERO-G flight aboard a modified Boeing 727 after taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 26, 2007. REUTERS/Zero-Gravity Corporation/Handout. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO ARCHIVES. NO SALES.

Paris - How much would you pay to emulate astronauts as they float weightlessly in space?

Until now restricted to trainee space explorers and scientists, Europe's “Zero-G” aircraft is to start making commercial flights for paying customers from March 15, its operators said.

The Airbus 300 flies parabolas, offering around 30 seconds of gravity-free experience at the top of each loop.

Over a flight lasting two and a half hours, those onboard acquire a total of five minutes of weightlessness, drifting in a big padded cabin.

Three flights are scheduled for 2013, each of them carrying 40 adult passengers, said France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), which operates the specially-adapted plane with the firm Novespace.

And the cost? 5,980 euros (about R70 000) a head.

Zero-gravity flights are already available commercially in the United States and Russia. - Sapa-AFP