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Fly Virgin, earn a shot at space

You might rethink the monotony of collecting frequent flyer miles after seeing this space-faring promotion from Virgin America.

The action takes place aboard the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, which launches off the White Knight Two airplane at 50,000 feet above sea level. (Click to enlarge.) Jon Griffith/Virgin Galactic

Avid jet-setters aspiring for something more should check out Virgin America's new Mission: Galactic contest. Whoever earns the most status points with their Elevate loyalty program by August 7, 2013 earns a Virgin Galactic suborbital space flight aboard SpaceShipTwo spaceplane.

You can earn said status points by purchasing flights on Virgin America, Atlantic, or Australia, or using an associated credit card. The runner-up in the contest gets a Zero-G experience aboard a plane that does parabolic arcs to simulate weightlessness.

Digging into the contest details reveals exactly how much this flirtation with space costs aboard Richard Branson's space shuttle -- roughly $200,000. Luckily, Virgin throws the winner an additional $85,700 check to help cover taxes associated with the experience.