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Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Destination Mir for reality TV
Mir Space Station
Top prize: A trip to Mir for the winner
Survivor creator Mark Burnett has signed a deal with US TV network NBC for a new reality series culminating in a member of the public being sent to the Russian space station Mir.

The network has agreed to pay nearly $40m (28m) for the rights to Burnett's Destination Mir, according to industry newspaper Daily Variety.

Survivor, which was a huge hit for rival network CBS, saw contestants battling it out to be last one left on a desert island for a $1m (675,000) prize.

Burnett's latest concept would follow competitors through space camp. The winner would be sent into space and aboard the Mir orbiting laboratory.

NBC has not scheduled a time for the new series. But the station's entertainment president Garth Ancier said he hoped to broadcast Destination Mir by autumn next year.

"Space is the ultimate adventure and destination," Burnett said. "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."

Uplifting conclusion

Burnett both created and acted as executive producer on Survivor.

Richard Hatch
Survivor winner Richard Hatch walked away $1m richer
The show - the first in a spate of so-called reality TV programmes in the US - was US TV's biggest summer sensation.

It beat, by a long way, the American version of Big Brother, the show responsible for similarly captivating audiences across Europe.

Each week, the 16 castaways marooned on the South Pacific island of Pulau Tiga voted to banish one of their own from the island.

The winner, corporate trainer Richard Hatch, walked away with $1m at the end of August.

Like Survivor, Destination Mir is thought to need around 13 episodes to reach its uplifting conclusion.

Launch pad

Contestants would be followed through space boot camp. Each week, one participant would be eliminated by Russian space officials.

The live two-hour conclusion would gather several finalists on a launch pad to hear the winner announced.

He or she would then climb aboard a Soyuz space capsule for the 10-day round trip in space and on to Mir.

MirCorp, an Amsterdam-based firm, now owns the commercial rights to exploit the Russian space station.

The $40m price tag paid by NBC includes nearly $20m (14m) that Burnett will have to pay to MirCorp to make his programme.

"MirCorp's goal is to commercialise 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.

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See also:

24 Aug 00 | Entertainment
US TV's million-dollar Survivor
12 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Step forward for space station
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