Manned space travel is in a strange place right now, with NASA’s funding getting slashed and private corporations talking a big game about commercial space flights and asteroid mining and even friggin’ Mars colonies. It will be fascinating to see whether these claims come to fruition over the next few decades, and if so, if that inspires our government to give NASA more support and loftier ambitions. But in the midst of all of this, there is one inevitable element of our culture that is keen to tag along on man’s tentative steps into the final frontier, whether we want it to or not. I’m talking, of course, about reality TV.
Deadline reports that Sony Pictures Television is working on a new reality competition series entitled Milky Way Mission. That title might be a bit too grand for what looks to effectively be “Celebrity Survivor in Space.” Sony is partnering with the Netherlands-based Space Expedition Corporation, Tuvalu Media, and Simpel Media for MWW, which will have 10 celebrities slip the surly bonds of earth and yadda yadda yadda space, zero-gravity, probable vomiting.
The journey into space will be the end game of the show, of course. The bulk of the program will follow the celebs as they’re put through space bootcamp to give them all the knowledge and training they need so as not to accidentally open an airlock while trying to get a better cell phone signal so they can update their Twitter. Personally, I think it would be more entertaining if they sent them up without any training at all, especially if the public gets to vote which celebrities are involved (ideally, the celebs themselves would not get a vote).
So far the Dutch network Nederland 1 has commissioned eight episodes of Milky Way Mission, but it’s still a bit early to guess where or when the show might air here in the States, or which celebrities will sign on. There are already tons of celebs paying cash-money to go up on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, so I can’t imagine we’re going to see a crop of A-listers submitting themselves to this. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but I’d say there’s an excellent chance this will involve Danny Bonaduce and/or Tonya Harding.
Space reality shows are all the rage of late. Following that Survivor reference, last week we reported that reality show guru Mark Burnett is shopping around a series concept that would allow people to compete for a seat aboard SpaceShipTwo and a ride up to the edge of space. Between Burnett and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, I’d be very surprised if this one didn’t come together on one of the main broadcast networks.
Even more ambitious is Mars One, a planned series that will follow the training and selection process for a handful of contestants who will, at least in theory, travel to friggin’ Mars and help form a permanent human colony on the red planet. Mars One is still a long way from proving they can get humans to Mars, much less keep them alive once they get there, but over 150,000 people applied, in spite of it being, at least for now, a one-way trip with no means of returning home to Earth.
Regardless of how well all these shows play out, and as much as we like to mock reality programming here at GFR, if they can help increase public interest in space exploration and science in general, I’m all for it. Especially if they can get Justin Bieber on that one-way Mars trip.