NBC makes Mark Burnett’s dream come true: Space Race will send its winner into orbit

Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett has been trying to create a reality competition that sends its winner into space for more than 13 years, and it may finally happen: NBC has ordered Space Race, which teams Burnett up with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and will send the winner into space on SpaceShipTwo.

One of the early posts I wrote in 2000 was a link to a story about Burnett’s Destination: Mir, which became Destination: Space after Mir was destroyed. In a press release, Burnett said:

“For the past ten 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. 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.”

All that NBC said about the series is that is has a deal to create the series, which will be “a groundbreaking, elimination competition series where everyday people compete for … a trip for the winner into space on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo for a life-changing experience few people have ever enjoyed, all captured on camera.” The show “will have unprecedented access to Virgin Galactic’s home in the state-of-the-art Spaceport America in New Mexico, the departure point and training and preparation center for space flights.”

Commercial flights on SpaceShipTwo are scheduled to begin next year and cost $250,000–a spectacular but relatively cheap prize for a reality competition.

Last week, Sony announced it would sell a space reality show format developed in the Netherlands: Milky Way Mission, an elimination show that sends its celebrity contestant winner into space via SXC.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.