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Mark Burnett's 'Space Race' reality competition picked up by NBC

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/04/2013 

Mark Burnett's long-held dream of a space reality show may finally be coming to fruition.

NBC has announced it's ordered Space Race, a groundbreaking reality adventure competition executive produced by Burnett in which everyday people will get the chance to compete for a ticket to fly into space.

The network has struck a deal with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, and Burnett's One Three Media to launch Space Race, which will allow the winning contestant to embark into space on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo for a life-changing experience.

"The scope of this endeavor is so staggering, that it took these two titans to even imagine it," NBC reality chief Paul Telegdy said in a statement. "The term 'trip of a lifetime' has for once been delivered on! This will be a remarkable experience for anyone who has looked at the night's sky and dared to dream of Space Flight."

Space Race will have unprecedented access to Virgin Galactic's home in the state-of-the-art Spaceport America in New Mexico, the departure point, training and preparation center for space flights.

This isn't Burnett's first attempt to launch a space reality show. Back in 2000, he sold the show Destination Mir to NBC. While the reality competition was supposed to air in 2001-2002 and give its winner a trip to Mir, Russia's aging space station, the station had to be brought down in 2001 -- resulting in the show being scuttled, according to TV Guide.

Burnett reportedly attempted to launch a similar show a few years later entitled Destination: Space, which featured him partnering with the Russian Space Agency and a Russian television network for a show that would allow its winner to visit the International Space Station. However, the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster reportedly changed the minds of U.S. networks about the series, which would have used a Russian rocket and transport ship to get its winner to the International Space Station.

"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," Burnett said in a statement. 

"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."

Added Richard, "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. 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."

NBC's Space Race deal comes only days after Sony Pictures Television announced plans for Milky Way Mission, a Dutch reality competition which will feature Dutch celebrities competing for an opportunity to rocket launch into earth's atmosphere via Space Expedition Corporation, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Milky Way Mission will air on a network called Nederland 1 and feature U.S. astronaut Buzz Aldrin as an advisor.

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