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updated 5/11/2009 10:46:11 AM ET 2009-05-11T14:46:11

The Harlem Globetrotters will soon have a presence in space.

On board shuttle Atlantis when it lifts off Monday on a repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope will be a pair of basketballs. One belongs to the Globetrotters. The other, on loan from the University of Chicago, was once handled by Edwin Hubble, the astronomer for whom the telescope is named. Astronaut John Grunsfeld, an alumnus, is taking it up.

Hubble tossed the ball around in a 1909 victory against Indiana University. Hubble was a star forward on the University of Chicago's Big Ten champion teams of 1907-1908 and 1908-1909.

The Globetrotters also have ties to Chicago. That's where they were founded in 1926.

After traveling to 120 countries and six continents, the Globetrotters wanted to expand into space.

The Globetrotters will put their ball on display at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. The Hubble ball will go back to the University of Chicago.

Liftoff of Atlantis is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

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