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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Space game show planned
The International Space Station
The ISS needs a funding boost
Russian TV station First Channel has become the latest broadcaster to announce plans to make a show where members of the public compete to win a trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

The state-owned channel said on Wednesday it was planning a high-stakes television game show that would send the winner blasting off on a mission with Russian cosmonauts.

The channel said it would be working with the space agency Rosaviakosmos on the show, which appears much like an idea put forward - but still unrealised - by the US TV network NBC in 2000.

Space tourist Mark Shuttleworth
Mark Shuttleworth was the most recent space tourist

The show is also the latest in a string of creative efforts to make ends meet by the cash-strapped Russian space program, struggling since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Rosaviakosmos was the first agency to send paying tourists to the ISS. Company spokesman Sergei Gorbunov confirmed the TV deal.

"We have signed a contract with First Channel. I can't say yet what amount it was for, but this may be released in December," said Mr Gorbunov.

Tourist

The First Channel said anyone could apply to take part in the programme. From those who do, 16 will be chosen to train in the Star City cosmonaut centre outside Moscow.

"The best one will spend a week in the Russian section of the International Space Station," added First Channel General Director Konstantin Ernst.

'N Sync singer Lance Bass
Lance Bass (left) had begun his training

The Russian crew are scheduled to travel to the ISS in October 2003.

Rosaviakosmos has taken two members of the public to the ISS. American businessman Dennis Tito made space history when he went up in 2001.

South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth followed in April 2002.

American pop singer Lance Bass - from the group 'N Sync - was due to be the third space tourist, blasting off in October.

But Rosaviakosmos shelved the plan after he failed to raise enough finance for the trip.

See also:

26 Oct 00 | Entertainment
05 May 02 | Science/Nature
13 Sep 00 | Entertainment
03 Sep 02 | Entertainment
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