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Collecting your space miles

09/12/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Virgin Atlantic today is joining forces with Virgin Galactic to offer its Flying Club members the opportunity to become an astronaut. Members will be able to convert their earthly miles into space miles and earn themselves a trip into space to join the 100 mile-high club.

Members will need to earn two million Flying Club miles on Virgin Atlantic flights to be able to redeem them for a trip with Virgin Galactic into space. The trip includes the three day Virgin Galactic Experience which will ensure that future astronauts can savour each second of their space flight. The experience will include 'g' acclimatisation, a flight in the White Knight and will take place in the US at the Virgin Galactic Spaceport.

To date the world has seen only 444 astronauts, with the launch of Virgin Galactic commercial flights, the firm said they expect this to grow to many, many thousands - initially flights will cost $200,000, but Virgin Galactic expect prices to fall over time.

Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic, told SFcrowsnest: "A journey into space seems like a distant dream for many but this deal makes it more even more achievable for our frequent travellers to become astronauts. We have always tried to offer more unusual and fun rewards, like hot air ballooning and white water rafting, alongside our more conventional awards, but this means our Flying Club rewards are now literally out of this world! No other airline will be able to match this amazing offer. 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. It aims to own and operate privately built spaceships, modelled on the SpaceShipOne craft. These spaceships look to allow affordable sub-orbital space tourism for the first time.

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