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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The developers of the reality TV show "Space Hero" want to make space cool.

Why it matters: As spaceflight opportunities open up to more people who aren't professional astronauts, the space industry — which is largely insular and elite — will need to find ways to make space travel appealing to the public.

Catch up quick: The show, which is currently in pre-production, takes on a reality TV format with 24 contestants competing for the grand prize of a ticket aboard a ship bound for the International Space Station.

  • Those 24 contestants from all over the world will live in a "space village" during the filming of the show, which plans to feature space technologies developed by dozens of nations with space agencies.
  • The competition will focus on testing the participants' physical and mental strength in preparation for spaceflight.
  • "The drama that we will have in the space village is not going to be about the last piece of toilet paper and who kicks who out. This is a very different drama. The drama is in the realization of where you are," Thomas Reemer, a co-founder of the show, told me, adding that all 24 people in the village will have different reasons for applying.
  • "Space Hero" already has a ticket for its winner to fly aboard an Axiom Space mission expected to take flight in 2023.

The big picture: The people behind the show believe that having a high-profile reality TV competition with such a huge prize will show people what the space industry and space agencies can offer in a way that just flying astronauts couldn't.

  • "Let's make space cool. Let's make it sexy. Let's make it pop culture," "Space Hero" co-founder Deborah Sass told me.
  • "Let's make it mainstream so that everybody wants to get involved — not just a few that are super smart or super educated or super privileged. Let's make it available and accessible and engaging to everybody, and that's what mass media does."

What's next: "Space Hero" expects to go public with more of its vision for the show, and it plans to open up applications for contestants in the next six to eight months, Sass said.

  • Interested space fans can sign up to get information as it's available directly from "Space Hero" on its website by clicking the "become an insider" link at the bottom.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 3, 2021 - Science

Companies race to design private space stations before ISS goes offline

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies are rapidly designing private space stations that could one day dominate operations in orbit around Earth.

Why it matters: NASA is hoping private industry will start to take over operations in low-Earth orbit once the International Space Station comes to an end, creating a robust commercial market in that part of space.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

Russia is dialing up its military space ambitions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Russia is staging shows of military might in orbit as its civil and commercial space sector loses its longstanding edge.

Why it matters: These demonstrations threaten to undermine responsible behavior in space, and could put U.S. military — and possibly commercial — assets in orbit at risk.