Virgin America is one of my favorite airlines to fly on — it’s kind of like the airline of the future, with interactive displays in every headrest, cool lighting, an animated safety video, and there’s almost always WiFi on board.
But Virgin is looking to be even more futuristic, promising the customer with the most miles at the end of the year a chance to upgrade to Galactic status.
That’s right, the person who flew the most on Virgin Airlines will win a ride to space courtesy of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
Starting now through August 7, 2013, the contest will allow the most frequent flier to take a trip on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, a carbon composite commercial space craft.
The SpaceShipTwo rides along with WhiteKnightTwo before launching into space — it takes far less energy to launch from 50,000 ft than it does from the ground.
A ticket on a commercial space craft is running people between $100,000 (the going rate over at Space Expedition Corporation (SXC)) and $200,000. But the winner will enjoy a galactic trip for free (aside from all the airline tickets). The second-place frequent flier will get a free zero-gravity flight at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, but sadly will not enter space.
In other words, expect to see George Clooney in space in about a year.
Virgin Galactic is a company within Richard Branson’s Virgin Group which plans to provide sub-orbital spaceflights to the paying public, along with suborbital space science missions and orbital launches of small satellites. Further in the future Virgin Galactic hopes to offer orbital human spaceflights as well. It is mainly targeted at a demographic of space casuals due to the fact that their aircraft travel less than 10 miles into the atmosphere, not even halfway into