NBC is the latest player to enter the space race. The Peacock network on Thursday announced it is creating a new reality show in partnership with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett.
The new unscripted competition show, dubbed "Space Race," will have contestants competing for a ticket aboard Branson's Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo. No schedule has been announced yet, but according to an NBC release, "'Space Race' is a groundbreaking, elimination competition series where everyday people compete for the ultimate prize: 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."
Based on the announcement, portions of the show will be filmed from Spaceport America, located in New Mexico, that is the home to Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and other corporate spaceflight companies. Its grand prize is very valuable, and it will put the winner in some high-profile company. Tickets start at $250,000 for a seat aboard the SpaceShipTwo, and Justin Bieber, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks, Ashton Kutcher and Leonardo DiCaprio have already booked their trips to space through Virgin Galactic.
Branson's goal with Virgin Galactic is to make spaceflight available to the public, and the show will boost the company's presence and mission to a global audience. In the announcement, Branson said, "Virgin Galactic’s mission is to democratize space, eventually making commercial space travel affordable and accessible to all. ‘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."
Branson, Burnett and NBC did not announce the format of "Space Race" nor any details about the number of contestants the show would involve. As the Washington Post speculates, the idea of a live finale, with the winner being launched into space, could make "Space Race" a huge success as millions of viewers tune in and take to social media to discuss the launch. In September, Virgin Galactic successfully completed a second test flight. The company said more than 625 tickets have been sold for the first round of flights aboard the SpaceShip Two.