London man uses air miles for space trip

Sept. 29, 2006 at 9:23 AM

LONDON, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A London man has become the first person to exchange his frequent flier miles for a trip into space with Virgin Galactic.

Electrician Alan Watts said he flew to and from the United States on Virgin Atlantic flights more than 40 times in the past six years, earning him enough miles to take the trip into space with Virgin's space wing, London's The Sun newspaper reported Friday. The trip cost 2 million frequent flier miles, compared to the 90,000 miles required for a first-class flight from London to New York.

Watts said his daughter convinced him to sign up for the trip, scheduled for 2009.

"My daughter said to me 'if nothing else think about the view you would get out of the window,'" he told The Sun.

"I'm glad I decided to do it -- I would be kicking myself if I didn't. It really is a once in a lifetime experience. The more I think about it the more I get excited."

Virgin Galactic, which expects to begin flights in 2008, has been building five spaceships and two aircraft for its planned voyages, which will last 2 1/2 hours and include five minutes in zero gravity. Tickets cost nearly $200,000 each.

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