British tycoon Richard Branson who owns Virgin Airlines also owns a space tourism company, Virgin Galactic. The company has been planning flights to space since 2004 and more than 520 individuals have put down deposits for the flights to space that will cost an estimated $200,000. Amongst the individuals include actor, Ashton Kutcher who is keen to visit space.
Virgin has yet to fly tourists to space but Branson has said that his spaceship will be ready for take off by December 2013, according to CNN. "The initial flights will be sub-orbital, which will give people a taste of space," he said to CNN. "From there we'll go into orbital flights and maybe one day hotels in space."
Virgin Airlines fliers are now allowed to collect frequent flier miles through August 7, 2013 to win a space trip flight with Virgin Airlines' Mission: Galactic program.
The grand prize is a trip to space while second place winners will receive a zero-gravity fight courtesy of ZERO-G.
Whoever flies the most amount of miles on Virgin America, Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic will win the grand prize on Virgin Galactic.
All passengers enrolled in Virgin's Elevate frequent flier profile are welcome to earn points for their travels and win the unprecedented trip to space.
In October Branson announced the LauncherOne which is a new air-launched rocket designed to deliver small satellites into orbit. The new orbital launch vehicle is expected to begin by 2016.
Branson said on Virgin Galactic's website, "I'm immensely proud of what we have already achieved as we draw near to regular suborbital flights on SpaceShipTwo. Now, LauncherOne is bringing the price of satellite launch into the realm of affordability for innovators everywhere, from start-ups and schools to established companies and national space agencies. It will be a critical new tool for the global research community, enabling us all to learn about our home planet more quickly and afford ably.
See Virgin's promotional video of Virgin Galactic made in 2006: