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New reality TV show aims to literally send a civilian to the International Space Station

By Benjamin Bullard

Nothing is beyond the reach of reality television — not even the International Space Station. In a move that literally goes to unprecedented lengths to reward a future docu-star standout, a production company has reportedly scored a deal to hold a contest that’ll fly the winner to the ISS — and (of course) put the entire thing on TV.

If the current plan holds, production company Space Hero, Inc. will stage a televised competition to find the most worthy soul to launch into orbit, having already struck a deal that secures the winner a place on the ISS in a planned 2023 mission, according to Deadline. Viewers would witness the whole thing play out in a TV show titled Space Hero — from the selection of the initial batch of aspiring space tourists, to the feats they’d need to accomplish to name the winner, to the actual mission itself, which will send the titular space hero to the ISS aboard a crewed flight powered by a SpaceX Dragon rocket.

While the concept obviously aims to make an aspiring astronaut out of an average person with no special training in aeronautics, Space Hero will reportedly approach the idea of flinging a newbie into low Earth orbit with at least some degree of…gravity. “The selected group of contestants will undergo extensive training and face challenges testing their physical, mental and emotional strength, qualities that are essential for an astronaut in space,” reports Deadline, adding that the series would likely involve viewers worldwide in a live-broadcast vote to help designate the winner.

However they’re chosen, the victorious space hero is already booked for a 10-day stay on the ISS that, according to the report, may even include some kind of awareness-raising educational component for on-board STEM research (if reported current discussions with NASA pan out). In order to do all this, the production company — founded by entrepreneurs Thomas Reemer and Deborah Sass and led by former News Corp executive Marty Pompadur — is teaming with Texas-based aerospace manufacturer Axiom Space, which is planning to launch commercial missions to the ISS beginning sometime next year. Axiom reportedly is working on its own space module that’ll provide an astronaut habitat for long-term, privately-chartered flights to the space station.

So far, Space Hero is still in the early stages of striking a TV deal, so we don’t know where to tune in to watch what’s shaping up to be the world’s first space-based reality drama unfold. The show is set to hit the market soon, “with a global streaming platform and a broadcast partner in each country, including the U.S., explored as distribution options,” the report states. We also don’t know how — or when — the selection process that’ll winnow down the show’s group of civilian candidates is set to take place. But as soon as we do, we’ll be sure to pass it along…or else keep it a secret — so we have a better shot at becoming space heroes ourselves.