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“Most of the people who have been up on Blue [Origin] have been up with us... we also train astronauts,” says Zero-G CEO

Matt Gohd, Zero-G CEO, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the zero-gravity space environment, how he offers training for people heading up on Blue Origin flights, and what kind of research is being done in zero gravity environments.

Video Transcript

EMILY MCCORMICK: From Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk and Richard Branson, if you're jealous of the billionaires leading the private space race charge, this company is offering a more affordable weightless experience. Zero Gravity Corp is flying from cities like Seattle and Miami in parabolic flights, giving passengers a few minutes of weightlessness. Joining us now to talk about this is Matt Gohd, CEO of Zero Gravity Corporation. Matt, thank you so much for joining us. So again, your company isn't sending people to space. But it is giving passengers a zero gravity weightless opportunity.

Tell us about how business has been the past few months. Is this the type of experience that has been impacted by the pandemic and seen pent up demand? And potentially any reversal of that, given the latest virus surge?

MATT GOHD: So to answer three of your questions in no particular order, yes, we've been extraordinarily busy. A lot of our flights are filling up pretty quickly. And we're not seeing any pushback from this surge over the last month or five weeks at all. In fact, I think we're just continuing to see more and more demand. And it is. If you kind of bifurcate what Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos offer, is they offer some zero G and this amazing view, and for fairly significant price difference than what we do.

We offer more of the zero G time and none of the view. So you get seven to eight minutes of zero gravity in our flight versus about three minutes of zero gravity in theirs. But then again, you're going up and seeing this amazing view of the Earth. And I think that's really what you're going to do it for.

ADAM SHAPIRO: How much does it cost? And for those of us who lose our cookies easily, 20 years ago as a cub reporter in another city, I had the honor of going up with the Blue Angels. And I lost my cookies on the first barrel roll. Would I lose my cookies on this? Because I'm willing to make the investment.

MATT GOHD: It's about $8,200 to do it which is about a business class seat to Europe. And no. It's a actually pretty gentle experience. I mean, I've been up in experimental aircraft. That's a little different than this. This is literally you're pitching up, maybe pulling a little under 2 Gs for a couple of minutes, and then you're released from it. And then you're literally just floating in the cabin. The incidence of people having what I would call sub nominal, or adverse effects, on our flights is less than one per flight. And we get about 28 people per flight.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Tell us a bit more about-- tell us a little bit more about those training for Blue Origin flights, other types of space travel. What is your program like? And how similar is this experience for those who are doing a zero G opportunity?

MATT GOHD: So we've had most of the people that have been up on Blue have been up with us. And it's not that they tell them to. They just find that it's better to get the zero G experience out of the way so they can really focus on the view. On the one flight that Richard Branson did, two of the people who flew up with them had actually been with us two weeks ago to do a zero G flight. And again, the idea is the zero G part, as cool as it is, you can do it with us. You go up with them, focus on this amazing view of the Earth and the curvature of it, the Blue, and all those things.

But we've also trained astronauts. The four that went up for Inspiration 4 flew with us well in advance of their trip this last year. And one of the principals said doing the zero G flight he felt was very, very helpful in understanding what it feels like. The group, the next four that are going up in February, which would be the first civilian crew to go to the International Space Station, will have flown with us last May. The same idea of getting a feel that your first experience on the ISS should not be your first experience with zero gravity.

ADAM SHAPIRO: You're flying from different cities. Is there just one plane? In the geek in me, when I see the video of the plane, I think it's a 727. What is the plane?

MATT GOHD: So it is, it's a highly retrofitted and remodded 727 Cargo 200. And it's the only one of its kind that the FAA has certified to allow these kinds of flights to be taken on. And the plane moves around. Our next flight is the end of January here in Miami. And then from there, we're in Long Beach about the week before the Super Bowl for a series of flights. And then it's off to Kennedy Space Center, which is a really cool experience by the way where we take off and land from shuttle landing facility. And we kind of throw in a little tour of the launch pads, including 39 A from where Elon flies you up to the stars.

And then again, it moves. And we're in Seattle, we end up in New York, at the end of May, we have a relationship with Blade Helicopter, where you jump on a helicopter on the Midtown Manhattan flyover next to our plane in Newark, fly up, and fly back the same way. So there's some unique, cool things that we do on top of giving you this most unique experience that you can have.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Who is the average zero G experience customer, if there is one? And how have you been reaching them?

MATT GOHD: So there really isn't one per se. I mean, it's men, it's women, it's people from all ages. We have flown people from eight to 80, different type of demographics. Some people save all year to do-- or all year, for more than a year for this bucket list item. Some people take their plane and their families as well. So it kind of runs the gamut. We've really kind of been pushing to get younger, under 30 people on, and we ran a little special. We called it like the first 30 under 30, got a 30% discount.

And that went well. And we want younger people to do this. But flying consumers is not just all we do. I mean, it's what you get to see. But half of what we do is flying research, primarily for NASA, MIT, and other universities and understanding how things will act in space. We've also done some really amazing projects with mission AstroAccess where we flew 12 extraordinarily capable, talented people that were unfortunately severely disabled and gave them the idea of space is open to anyone.

So the consumer flight, we obviously get a lot of visibility on. We've been on every network. We run out with Al Roker, we've been on "Good Morning America", CNN, you kind of name it. We've been on it. Because it is. It's the single most accessible experience that you can have that basically is the same thing as being an astronaut. We've had astronauts on the plane. And they've said it is the same experience. It's just not quite as long in duration as they get being on the ISS or being in a capsule where it's zero G all the time.

But the 15 30 second segments that you get with us is the same feeling is that they would have in doing those things.