Virgin Atlantic has joined forces with Virgin Galactic to offer its flying club members the opportunity to become an astronaut. For what the company claims to be the first time ever for any frequent flyer program worldwide, members will be able to convert their earthly miles into space miles and earn a trip to space.
(Editor’s Note: Virgin is not, in fact, the first to offer a space award. For many years, US Airways Dividend Miles offered a high-level award with Space Adventures. However, the US Airways award was contingent on the technology to take consumers into space being developed. It has since dropped the award offering.)
Flying club members will need to earn two million miles on Virgin Atlantic flights to redeem them for the space trip. The trip includes the three-day Virgin Galactic Experience — including “G-acclimatization” and a flight aboard the White Knight spaceship, all of which will take place in the U.S. at the Virgin Galactic Spaceport.
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin’s CEO, said, “We expect the first Virgin Galactic space flight to take place in 2008 which gives our flying club members time to save up all their miles.”
Virgin Galactic is a company established by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group to undertake the challenge of developing space tourism for everybody. It will own and operate privately built spaceships, modeled on the SpaceShipOne craft. These spaceships will allow affordable sub-orbital space tourism for the first time. Until now the top reward with flying club was a break on Necker Island, Sir Richard’s private paradise in the Caribbean, which required one million miles.