Reality show Space Hero to award winner with trip to International Space Station

Hurricane Genevieve is seen from the International Space Station orbiting Earth in an image taken by Nasa astronaut Christopher J. Cassidy in August 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

A US-based production company is pitching a reality TV show based on a worldwide hunt for a space-loving contestant who would win a ride to the International Space Station, as Nasa opens up space to entertainers and advertisers.

Space Hero LLC, headquartered in Britain, is in discussions with Houston, Texas-based Axiom Space, which procures and arranges private rides to space, to book a seat for "one worthy contestant" in 2023 aboard a private space capsule, the production company announced on Thursday (Sept 17).

No television network or air date has been agreed so far for the show, tentatively titled "Space Hero."

"Space Hero will provide an opportunity for anyone from any background to become the first globally-elected space explorer to take part in a mission to the International Space Station," the company said in a news release.

The unscripted casting show will follow the winning contestant through exhaustive astronaut training before embarking on a week-long stay aboard the space station, an orbiting laboratory travelling in low-Earth orbit at roughly 27,000kmh.

It is unclear what space vehicle the winning contestant will ride on. Previously announced Axiom-arranged missions have involved SpaceX's Crew Dragon, though the company said it could also use other vehicles, such as Boeing's Starliner space capsule.

A Space Hero spokesman on Friday (Sept 18) did not provide a budget for the show, but the company's co-founder Deborah Sass has described the winning prize as "a US$65 million ticket with a 10-day stay on the International Space Station."

The reality TV show is the latest deal to capitalise on the International Space Station, which Nasa in recent years has opened to advertisers and private companies in a bid to spur commercial opportunities in low-Earth orbit.

The station, which has housed international crews of astronauts continuously for nearly 20 years, will host Mission: Impossible star Tom Cruise in the coming years as the set for an action-adventure film.

Cruise will hitch a ride aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, arranged by Axiom.