Well-known theoretical physicist and all-around geek hero Stephen Hawking has told the press he plans to undertake a zero-gravity flight this year in preparation for a hopeful berth on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourist service when it launches in 2009. Hawking, who has the neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, communicates via a blink-controlled computer and uses a high-tech wheelchair for mobility, making space flight somewhat challenging -- but Virgin Galactic spokesperson Stephen Attenborough said in a statement Monday that Branson is committed to working through the issues that need to be addressed in order to accomodate people with disabilities on his company's trips into suborbit. Cost of a two-hour suborbital spaceflight? $200,000. The look on the most famous cosmologist's face upon actually making it into space? Priceless.

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Stephen Hawking in space (space... space...)