Richard Branson, the jetsetting Virgin Group business bigwig, has offered theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking the opportunity of a lifetime: a free ride to space.
"Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic," the acclaimed astrophysicist explained on an interview with Good Morning Britain. Obviously Hawking reacted the way any sane human -- let alone someone who's made it his career to study our place in the universe -- would react: "And I said yes immediately."
Branson, a rich guy with terrific hair and even better teeth who kitesurfs with Obama sometimes, has been building toward a dream of commercialized spaceflight for several years now. He initially hoped to get the first Virgin Galactic shuttle in the air as early as 2009, but explosions and other disasters have pushed that timeline back quite a bit. Who woulda thunk that shooting humans into space could be such a difficult business enterprise?