NBC has teamed with "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett to unveil "Destination Mir," a gravity-breaking new reality adventure drama series for the 2001-02 season, it was announced today by Garth Ancier, President, NBC Entertainment.
The series will follow several American civilians who will undergo Russian cosmonaut training. For the sole winner, the "Ultimate Prize" is to blast into space for a visit to the orbiting Russian space station, Mir.
Production of the series will be coordinated with MirCorp, the Holland-based company formed earlier this year to operate as a direct link between commercial users of Mir and the space station's Russian operators.
"MirCorp's goal is to commercialize space and bring the dream of space travel and exploration within reach of ordinary citizens, and we are excited to be working with Mark Burnett and NBC," MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber said.
Earlier this year, MirCorp backed the world's first truly commercial manned mission to a space station, which allowed two Russian cosmonauts to spend 73 days on board Mir to prepare for more flights to follow.
Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, a major shareholder in MirCorp and a company director, said "Destination Mir" confirms Mir Corp's long-term business outlook for commercial use of the station. "We have said all along that the entertainment and media sectors offer exciting revenue-generating potential for Mir," Kathuria said. "This is one element of our broad-based business plan, and it speaks well for Mir's overall commercial prospects."
The "Destination Mir" series will open with a two-hour premiere introducing viewers to a diverse cast of at least a dozen American civilians who will assemble to train for the mission at Star City, a cosmonaut training facility located near Moscow. Each week, one participant will be eliminated from training and will be sent home by Russian space officials.
In the dramatic, live two-hour conclusion, the finalists will be assembled on the launch platform. The winner will earn the ultimate adventure ticket as he or she boards a Soyuz spacecraft that will launch for a trip to the Mir space station located hundreds of miles above Earth followed by a stay aboard before the return flight home. The winner will enter the Soyuz vehicle and viewers will watch as he or she travels into space. In the days following the launch, NBC will continue coverage on the winner and will follow their journey, the visit onboard Mir and the eventual return to Earth. "We can't wait to begin on this project, which will literally be out-of-this-world," said Ancier. "This was a very complicated deal to arrange but with ‘Survivor' producer Mark Burnett's guidance, we believe it has unlimited potential and will take this type of reality programming to the next level."
Said Burnett: "Space is the ultimate adventure and destination. The fact that we will allow several ordinary people to undergo cosmonaut (boot camp) training at Star City, Russia, with one being selected to actually travel in a Russian spacecraft to Mir is extremely exciting to me. Their experience will make great dramatic television. Until now, only professional cosmonauts, astronauts or extremely wealthy individuals could hope for this opportunity."
The Mir (which translates as "peace" and is pronounced "mere") space station has been aloft for over 14 years and has since hosted cosmonauts and astronauts from many nations, including the U.S., France, Japan and the U.K. Living in space allows a unique platform for scientists and companies to perform experiments, produce materials, image the Earth, and collect research on space life sciences and micro-gravity.
MirCorp has leased the resources of the Mir space station from RSC Energia. A pioneer in space technology, RSC Energia is one of the oldest and most-respected space companies that launched Sputnik, sent the first man into orbit, built the Mir space station and is a lead contractor for the International Space Station. Two of the first modules for the International Space Station were built under the direction of RSC Energia.
Earlier this year, the company backed the world's first truly commercial manned mission to a space station, which allowed two Russian cosmonauts to spend 73 days on board Mir to prepare for more flights to follow.
As part of its deal with Burnett, NBC will also broadcast an hour-long documentary on businessman Dennis Tito MirCorp's first "Citizen Explorer" -- who has started training for his commercial spaceflight to Mir next year. Tito is a former U.S. space program engineer who founded a Los Angeles-based investment management consulting firm. He will be accompanied by two Russian cosmonauts on his flight.
"Destination Mir" is a Mark Burnett Production. Mark Burnett is the executive producer.
The series deal was brokered by Burnett's manager, Conrad Riggs, and Lois Scali of the law firm of Irell & Manella.
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Space Tourist To Prepare For Mir Flight
Moscow (Interfax) September 1, 2000
Dennis Tito, the first space tourist, will start training to fly to the Russian Mir space station in two weeks, head of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center Pyotr Klimuk has said in an interview with Interfax.
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