Astronaut Reality Series Set to Begin

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UPDATES: The three ISU alumni left the show within weeks after this blog post was published. They will not comment publicly on why. A representative for Stephen Hawking has denied the physicist has any involvement in the program. The show has continued under Executive Producer Jonathan Nolan, a former attorney who was disbarred in Australia for embezzlement from a trust fund he controlled.

A trio of ISU Summer Session 2009 students have gone public with a plan for a reality show that will choose two averagenauts for the trip of a lifetime – into orbit aboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle.

Contestants can register for the Starwalker competition beginning on Dec. 12. Filming is set to begin next May with flights set for 2011 and 2012.

The show was the brainchild of Katherine Bennell, Campbell Pegg and Rogan Shimmin, who are Australian and British postgraduate students within the space industry and three young people who are extremely passionate about humanity’s destiny to explore the solar system. It was during the International Space University SSP 2009, held at NASA Ames Research Center, that Katherine, Campbell and Rogan conceived and developed the idea for the television show STARWALKER. Surrounded by space pioneers and experts and encouraged by their example, this experienced provided these students with the belief that they could make their idea succeed. The show concept was largely inspired by the journey of Soyeon Yi, a fellow participant, and how her experience so enthused the population of South Korea. The concept was originally to replicate her experience in Australia, but fully funded by the media rather than the government.However, the potential benefits to the world and the enormity of this undertaking were deemed so great that the show went global, to encompass entries from any country on the planet.

The creators say they have the participation of famed physicist Stephen Hawkin; producer Dave Mousley and Red Vision UK; and award-winning film director, novelist and documentarian Jonathan Nolan to serve as show runner and executive producer.

STARWALKER PRESS RELEASE

Starwalker is an inspirational reality TV show that demonstrates the accessibility of space, its benefit to humanity, the potential for private investment in space and the ability for the whole world to get involved in this New Age of Discovery, via a televised competition to select and train two astronauts from the ranks of the common global population, assisted by world experts in human spaceflight. The show culminates in two winners flying into orbit as fully-fledged astronauts on a Soyuz rocket. There will be two main competitions run in parallel: one for citizens of the Southern Hemisphere and another for those of the Northern Hemisphere, each involving physical, psychological and skills testing along with such activities as survival training, skills testing, joy flights and analogue studies. A significant portion of the show will be dedicated towards showcasing the facilities, achievements and projects of space agencies, companies and organisations around the globe to demonstrate the global nature and interconnectedness of the space industry and excite the public in a ‘Top Gear’ style approach.

The contest to find the final two astronauts shall be a worldwide competition with people from literally anywhere on Earth able to enter for free on the Starwalker website or alternatively by premium call mobile phone access. This allows people from the entire planet to enter – anyone from any background can dare to dream and try out to become an Astronaut. Registration for contestants shall open on December 12 2009. All entrants will then be reviewed and processed prior to the filming of the show in May 2010 onwards.

All funds and insurance to cover this “astronomical” cost are in place. Starwalker is thus a television show featuring the most powerful media alliance, largest competition and richest prizes not just in television history but in human history.

The show was the brainchild of Katherine Bennell, Campbell Pegg and Rogan Shimmin, who are Australian and British postgraduate students within the space industry and three young people who are extremely passionate about humanity’s destiny to explore the solar system. It was during the International Space University SSP 2009, held at NASA Ames Research Center, that Katherine, Campbell and Rogan conceived and developed the idea for the television show STARWALKER. Surrounded by space pioneers and experts and encouraged by their example, this experienced provided these students with the belief that they could make their idea succeed. The show concept was largely inspired by the journey of Soyeon Yi, a fellow participant, and how her experience so enthused the population of South Korea. The concept was originally to replicate her experience in Australia, but fully funded by the media rather than the government. However, the potential benefits to the world and the enormity of this undertaking were deemed so great that the show went global, to encompass entries from any country on the planet.

The competitions on the show will potentially feature contributions from every type of space agency and space business on Earth. The audience of the show is UK, Europe, the USA (35% of the world’s television audience all on its own), North and South American, India, China, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The biggest audiences in history. For ten weeks (about half) of the show, voting lines will be open for the population of the Earth to vote for their favourite contestants.

Starwalker also features the on air talents of worldwide scientist celebrity Stephen Hawking, and on the production side the award winning talents of Dave Mousley and Red Vision UK, together with showrunner and executive producer the award winning film director, novelist and documentarian Jonathan Nolan. Red Vision has just concluded a multimillion dollar filming project with Discovery Channel, INSIDE THE MIND OF STEPHEN HAWKING, detailing and showing to the public the wonders across the known universe. The “bounce” generated from that project for the massive undertaking of Starwalker is significant indeed.

Behind them is a team including the most award winning television and film production specialists ever assembled outside of the combined team for an Olympics broadcast. Segments, feature episodes and background clips on the history of space travel and rocketry, the countries of origins of the contestants, the existing space agencies and industries worldwide will be filmed across the whole of the planet.

Starwalker will screen on free to air, cable and digital television worldwide as well as eventually being made available online as free webisodes and downloads. It will only be available online by paid subscription during the show, after which it will be provided for free to any web visitors. This is to protect the investment of the show’s backers and producers.

The show is carbon positive, with carbon credits issued under the official Australian government backed (world’s best practice) CCGAS scheme eliminating the entire show’s carbon footprint several times over, including the entire overseas carbon footprint of every aspect of the launch into space of each of the two winners.

SHOW SUMMARY

Starwalker is being made by The Starwalker Partnership. This is a legal partnership created between Jonathan Nolan and his media firm created specifically for this project, and Red Vision UK, a massively powerful and highly expert production company with impeccable contacts for bringing a true and wonderful vision of space to the small screen. The funds are in place in trust and escrow. Red Vision UK and Jonathan Nolan together will realise the plotted episodes and creative vision of Campbell, Katherine and Rogan.

Starwalker has as its central commitment and ethical charter the messages that humanity belongs in space, that our destiny as a species must be to expand from Earth across the cosmos in the peaceful exploration and colonization of the universe. Reality television for the first time will provide an honest look at peaceful competition, cooperation and the achievements in the space sciences. Contestants will still be entertaining for the viewers at home during the episodes, but the star of the show is space travel. Not just as live cargo, as passengers, but as CITIZEN ASTRONAUTS productively conducting science and exploration. That is, not ‘Big Brother’ but rather as civilian astronauts taking their place in space. Walking amongst the stars, following selection supported by space agencies and organizations from around the globe.

All stakeholders in the space industries and sciences will be shown at all times as the champions of humanity that they are. Space and its exploration will be shown as the inevitable “next big thing” for the human race. In the process, inspirational television history will be made on a weekly and at times daily basis, with an inclusive message of scientific achievement for the whole of the human race.

Starwalker is the best, and indeed biggest, attempt ever made to create a permanent shift in the consciousness of the public back to the sense of wonder and the majestic human glory of the Apollo era. And Starwalker is a direct appeal to the people of the Earth, without the detrimental filtering effects of governmental or journalistic interpretation. Space experts will speak truth direct to the people, and the people will answer with the love and respect that space travel deserves.

The producers and creators welcome expressions of interest from space agencies, companies or organizations around the world that would like to become involved. Contact: jonathan@hottestontv.com.au

  • http://www.twitter.com/txflygirl txflygirl

    Rather than divide it North/South Hemisphere, doesn’t it make more sense to divide it East/West hemisphere for a more even breakdown of population?

  • Thomas Olson

    It’s not clear here where the money is coming from for the “ticket”. Are any “deep pockets” actually committing to this?

  • Mary Boghosian

    I would like to participate

  • annonomous

    It is interesting that the two contestants are divided by hemispheres. Last time I checked the southern hemisphere is significantly less populated (maybe 15% of the population) than the northern hemisphere. Sounds like a strange division but two of the three people are from Australia. Why not just choose the two best candidates?

  • abc
  • http://www.thespacebuff.com Ray Katz

    Well, you can count me in! I hope they can pull this off…and that they’d consider me as a contestant…

  • http://realstarwalker.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Nolan

    All I can say at this stage is that the Western Hemisphere has the best of both worlds as it were and will be hopefully very much involved… :)

    As for the North-South dichotomy, it reflects the origin of the show creators, and the southern hemisphere also counts amongst its population some of the most vibrant of cultures, and indeed some launch facilities and other space resources. The show must involve the whole Earth, including the least developed.

    Entry is open to all inhabitants of the Earth over the age of 18, who are able to meet the minimum initial requirements when the contest begins.

    Entry is via free website entry and/or paid mobile phone entry.

    The entry process is officially slated to begin 12.12.09 but we may open the entry earlier depending on current logistical matters. :)

    As for funding- it is entirely covered with private finances and the operational matters of the northern and southern theatres are controlled through separate chains of command reporting to the showrunner and his producer partners.

    By all means, visit the blog until the website officially launches (it will launch very soon and of course be open for entries soon after).

    There will be many more exciting and substantive announcements shortly about our amazing show. :)

    -Jonathan Nolan
    Executive Producer / Showrunner
    STARWALKER

  • http://www.apictureaday.com Stella

    Cool! It is about time for a real reality show!

    What is going to happen when they get trashed and break the space ship?

  • Space fan

    Thank jonathan but where is the blog??

  • xavier Laurand

    Thank you for the information Jonathan. But where is the blog? I can’t find the address…

  • http://realstarwalker.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Nolan

    http://realstarwalker.blogspot.com/

    that is the blog address. not sure if it will get moderated. :) if not, there it is.

  • Luis Saraiva

    Count me in, either as a participant or “helper”

  • http://www.clarkcarter.com Clark Carter

    How many people do you plan on making it through to the first episode? Sounds like amazing!

  • Peter Lambert

    A quick google n this company shows some interesting stuff.

    http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/online-forum-trolls-cost-me-millions-filmmaker-20090715-dl4t.html
    http://www.zgeek.com/index.php?page=legal

    Is this still on going? Seema bit harsh, or is there another side of the story?

  • kylie

    how do you enter?

  • Stuart

    This is a great idea & I am genuinely interested. However the only way I have found to enter is via the ‘StarNow’ talent agency. Since this is a ‘Reality TV’ show, why do you only want actors etc to apply? It’s not another movie is it???
    I am not going to pay a talent agency money to apply for this show, because I have no need to use the agency for any other reason! Like I said, I am genuinely interested in this whole idea to further space research & get more public interest in this area. Is there any other way of becoming involved / entering?

  • Peter Lambert

    It looks like this show is possibly just another re-make of a previous space reality TV show called “Space Cadets”. One where they pulled the hoax on the contestants.

    “A group of twelve contestants (who answered an advert looking for “thrill seekers”) were selected to become the first British televised space tourists, including going to Russia to train as cosmonauts at the “Space Tourist Agency of Russia” (STAR) military base, with the series culminating in a group of four embarking on a five-day space mission in low Earth orbit. The show and space mission contained aspects of Reality TV, including hidden cameras, soundproofed ‘video diary’ rooms and group dormitories.

    However, the show was in fact an elaborate practical joke, described by Commissioning Editor Angela Jain as “Candid Camera live in space” and claimed by Channel 4 to have cost roughly five million pounds. Unknown to the “space cadets”, they were not in Russia at all, but at Bentwaters Parks (formerly RAF Bentwaters, a USAF airfield from 1951 to 1993) in Suffolk staffed by costumed actors, and the “space trip” was entirely fake, complete with a wooden “shuttle” and actor “pilots”. In addition, three of the Cadets were also actors, included to misdirect any suspicious Cadets and to help reinforce the illusion.

    Channel 4 had contingency plans if the contestants realised the hoax; Johnny Vaughan repeatedly suggested they would have to play old rerun episodes of Jamie’s School Dinners, and after the “launch” some unchosen Cadets would have been used as a backup crew.

    The show was originated by comedy writers Ben Caudell and Richard Osman (together with Annabel Jones).”

    http://realstarwalkers.blogspot.com/

  • Belynda

    This is extremely awesome! I saw the interview on TV and thought it all looked a little dodgy, but now that I see Stephen Hawking is going to be a part of it, well – wow! Will he actively take part in the show (similar to a judge on Dancing with the Stars or Australian Idol) and will contestants actually get to meet him in the process? Or will his role be simply that of an advisor behind the scenes? Just this, alone, gives the show so much more credibility. I’d even go so far as to say I may consider entering myself!

  • http://www.parabolicarc.com Doug Messier

    Actually, Hawking will not be part of this program. The press release is not accurate.

  • joe90

    What is the show going to be about? It should be about Astronauts that have lost their jobs due to the cancelation of the manned space program.
    It could be called “Unemployed in space”.