From the archive, originally posted by: [ mmm ]

Frequent-flier cashes in miles for space trip
POSTED: 10:27 a.m. EDT, September 29, 2006

LONDON, England (AP) — The closest that Alan Watts came to
experiencing outer space was on a theme park ride — now the British
businessman has traded his multitude of frequent-flier miles for a
real journey 75 miles (120 kilometers) above Earth, he said Thursday.

Watts has racked up 2 million flyer miles and plans to travel on the
world’s first commercial tourism flights to space, Virgin Atlantic
Airways spokeswoman Katie Francis said.

He will be among the first 1,000 people to travel on a space tourism
program in 2009 with Virgin Galactic, an offshoot of British
entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic. Flights cost $200,000
(about 100,000 pounds, euro155,000).

Watts, of London, is the managing director of an electrical
engineering firm and has taken more than 30 Virgin Atlantic flights in
the last six years.

“The nearest I’ve come to space before was going on the Space Mountain
ride in Florida,” Watts said in a statement, referring to an
attraction at Florida’s Disney World.

Test flights are planned for early next year.

The businessman will have three days of training before boarding the
spacecraft, which travels at more than 3,000 miles per hour (4,800
kilometers per hour).

He and five other crew members will be able to float in zero gravity
and see the curvature of the planet, Francis said.

“When we first contacted Alan to let him know he had qualified for
this unique offer, I think he thought it was a prank call,” Branson
said in a statement.

“Personally I am delighted that we have made it possible for Alan to
do something that previously he had never dreamed was possible for
him.”