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Reality TV competition ‘Space Hero’ signs an agreement with NASA

NASA has signed an agreement with reality TV competition ‘Space Hero’ to send the winner up to the International Space Station for 10 days as the first prize.

The Space Act Agreement between the agency and the production company doesn’t guarantee space travel, rather allows for information sharing between the two.

The number of contestants and the exact format has yet to be revealed, but those up for the challenge will undergo rigorous training and gruelling tests that push them mentally, physically and emotionally, Space Hero confirmed. 

The series is set to be shown live around the world, allowing viewers to vote for their favourite contestant to send into orbit on the laboratory 250 miles above the Earth.

Axiom Space will organise the $55 million trip, as they have a private spaceflight agreement with NASA. They will also select the launch provider. 

The number of contestants has yet to be revealed, but those up for the challenge will undergo rigorous training and grueling tests that push them mentally, physically and emotionally. However, the Space Hero website only shows a countdown clock and no other information about the show

SPACE TOURISTS ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION 

So far all seven privately funded visitors to the ISS have flown on a Soyuz rocket and capsule from Russia.

They have paid between $20 million and $50 million for their trips, lasting between eight and 14 days. 

Dennis Tito was the first to go to the ISS as a privately funded astronaut, with software architect Charles Simonyi the only person to go twice. 

TABLE TITLE
NAME  LAUNCH DATE DURATION 
Dennis Tito April 28, 2001 8 days 
Mark Shuttleworth  April 25, 2002  10 days 
Gregory Olsen October 1, 2005  10 days 
Anousheh Ansari September 20, 2006  10 days 
Charles Simonyi April 7, 2007  10 days 
Richard Garriott October 12, 2008  13 days 
Charles Simonyi  March 26, 2009  13 days 
Guy Laliberte  September 30, 2009  12 days 

Axiom Space, a private space infrastructure developer, says their eventual goal is to have a space station of their own, that will start as a module attached to the ISS.  

Space Hero will be a full reality competition open to anyone fluent in English, over the age of 18 and prepared to go into space as early as 2023.  

They hope to have 15 seasons of the show over 30 years, taking winners first to the ISS, but eventually on to the moon and even Mars as human spaceflight progresses.

NASA hopes to send the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024, as part of the Artemis mission, and then have the first crewed mission to Mars by 2035.

It is thought that Space Hero will follow in the footsteps of the NASA timeline.

Axiom will provide the services, through deals with NASA, other agencies and launch operators such as SpaceX, Boeing and Roscosmos with the Soyuz vehicle.

Space Hero has not announced which launch vehicle or spacecraft it will use to take the winner of season one to the ISS in 2023, although speculation is it will be SpaceX.

So far, only SpaceX and the Russian space agency Roscosmos have successfully demonstrated the ability to take astronauts to the ISS in recent years.

SpaceX is also running ahead with civilian missions, including an orbital trip later this year called Inspiration4 featuring a full crew of civilians and no pilots. 

There is some way to go before the show can launch, as Axiom and Space Hero have to negotiate permission to spend ten days on the ISS with NASA.

‘Any decision for a longer-term partnership beyond this initial feasibility study covered under the agreement will require additional follow on agreement(s) pending concept approval, distribution, and funding,’ NASA told Space.com. 

‘If approved by NASA, the private astronaut mission and its associated commercial activities would be conducted as part of a separate, future agreement between NASA and a private astronaut mission provider.’ 

That provider would be Axiom and not Space Hero, according to a NASA spokesperson, who added Axiom would have to propose and be selected for that private astronaut mission out of any other proposals on the table at the time.

Due to the size of the ISS, there are going to be limits on the number of visitors to the station at any one time – there are a core crew of six, but for short times it can hold up to nine, usually during changeover or for a tourist visit.

Space Hero's champion will launch aboard a rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) for a 10-day stay with the crew

Space Hero’s champion will launch aboard a rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) for a 10-day stay with the crew

NASA said they would ‘assess the feasibility of the mission’ and if agreed, the timing would be negotiated between them and Axiom.  

Space Hero is not the first production with its eyes on space, as NASA confirmed in May it is set to film a movie aboard the ISS starting Tom Cruise, who will blast off on a SpaceX rocket.

If it gets the go-ahead, the production would be the first action adventure feature film to be filmed in outer space.

Deadline initially reported that the winner will take a seat on a SpaceX Crew Dragon (pictured) capsule for the voyage to the ISS, but Axiom told CNBC that the launcher has yet to be determined

Deadline initially reported that the winner will take a seat on a SpaceX Crew Dragon (pictured) capsule for the voyage to the ISS, but Axiom told CNBC that the launcher has yet to be determined

NASA’s Jim Bridenstine shared on Twitter in May: ‘We’re excited to work with Tom Cruise on a film aboard the International Space Station.’

Axiom has also planned a mission to the ISS for a private crew in 2022 called AX-1 that will fly on a SpaceX Crew Dragon and remain for eight days. 

Four people are expected to leave Earth in January 2022 including NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe, Larry Connor from the US and Mark Pathy from Canada. 

Cruise was thought to be on that flight, but the crew of that movie, including the actor, will launch on a subsequent flight later in 2022. 

EXPLAINED: THE $100 BILLION INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION SITS 250 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH

The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000. 

Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.

ISS studies have investigated human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.

The US space agency, Nasa, spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, a level of funding that is endorsed by the Trump administration and Congress.

A U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees Nasa has begun looking at whether to extend the program beyond 2024.

Alternatively the money could be used to speed up planned human space initiatives to the moon and Mars.

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