It had to happen: "Voice" and "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett is teaming up with Richard Branson for the ultimate unscripted TV show in which average Americans compete for a chance to go into outer space.
NBC on Thursday announced an exclusive deal with the pair for "Space Race," a show it's hyping as a "groundbreaking, elimination competition series." Winners score a ride on Branson's Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, which made successful test flights this year in its quest to take commercial passengers into space.
The show will be filmed at least in part at Virgin Galactic's home in the Spaceport America in New Mexico, where prospective fliers are trained and prepared for space flights, according to the announcement.
" '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 said in the announcement.
This isn't the first time Burnett's One Three Media has wanted to do a show with a Space Age payoff. The Hollywood Reporter's story about the show says:
"... The producer first sold 'Destination Mir' to NBC in 2000. The series, whose finalists would have been teamed up with professional cosmonauts to go through training at Russia's Star City facility, was poised to end with an ordinary American taking a televised trip to the aging Mir space station. The pricey project, also at the center of a multinetwork bidding war, was shuttered when Mir was brought down the following year."
A Virgin Galactica ticket costs $250,000 -- and more than 600 people have signed up to be among the first passengers, including actors Ashton Kutcher and Leonardo DiCaprio. The "spaceline" has trained more than 140 "space agents" to sell tickets for upcoming flights expected to begin as soon as 2014.