Starting sometime in 2014, Virgin Galactic will officially launch the first commercial private flights into space, giving those with deep pockets a suborbital experience that will last about 15 minutes. If, however, you can't afford the pricey $250,000 ticket for a seat, there is another way — and it comes with a bonus 15 minutes of fame and a grand prize that is truly out-of-this-world.
NBC has announced that it has ordered a new reality series from famed producer Mark Burnett ("Survivor," "The Voice," "Shark Tank") focused on giving everyday people a shot at vying to win a trip to space aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.
"For the past 10 years I have relentlessly pursued my dream of using a TV show to give an everyday person the chance to experience the black sky of space and look down upon Mother Earth," said Burnett, who back in 2000 tried to sell a reality series that would have taken a winner to the MIR space station.
"Last year I spent time in New Mexico at the state-of-the-art facility and last week spent time in the Mojave Desert with Sir Richard and his impressive team. We got to see the spaceship up close and hear of Sir Richard's incredible vision of how Virgin Galactic is the future of private space travel. I am thrilled to be part of a series that will give the everyday person a chance to see space and that NBC has come on board too so that viewers at home will have a first-class seat."
For Branson, the opportunity to hook up with Burnett and NBC is a no-brainer from a marketing perspective.
"Virgin Galactic's mission is to democratize space, eventually making commercial space travel affordable and accessible to all," said Branson. "Space Race allows us to extend this opportunity of a lifetime to as many people as possible right at the start of our commercial service — through direct experience and television viewing. All of us at Virgin Galactic and our partner Aabar Investments are delighted to be collaborating with NBC and Mark, who is a true pioneer and creative force in television programming."
So far, close to 700 people are already signed up to travel aboard SpaceShipTwo; totaling some $80 million in deposits. This list includes celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Russell Brand, Leonardo DiCaprio, Stephen Hawking and Justin Bieber. Back in May, a couple of fans even paid $3.8 million for the chance to suit up and sit next to DiCaprio on a flight.
“We plan to put more people in space per year than the entire number of people who have ever gone before,” Branson told Time last month. “We’re doing this 50 years after NASA did it for the first time. We have much greater knowledge than was available back then.”
With commercial flights to space not kicking off until later next year, I'd expect "Space Race" to bow sometime in early-mid 2015.
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