By Irene Klotz
HOUSTON (Reuters) - After a decade of casting around for a space-themed show, reality TV producer Mark Burnett has finally found a way to launch his dream.
On Thursday, Burnett, creator of "Survivor" and "The Voice" unveiled a partnership with Virgin Galactic, a U.S. offshoot of Richard Branson's London-based Virgin Group, for a TV series that will send someone to space.
"For the past 10 years I have relentlessly pursued my dream of using a TV show to give an everyday person the chance to experience the black sky of space and look down upon mother Earth," Burnett said in a statement.
Virgin Galactic intends to begin commercial spaceflight services aboard the suborbital SpaceShipTwo next year.
The six-passenger, two-pilot ship, which is undergoing testing in Mojave, California, is designed to fly about 63 miles above Earth and return, giving passengers a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the planet set against the blackness of space.
About 630 people have put down deposits or purchased tickets for the ride, which now costs $250,000 a person.
The series, called "Space Race," will feature contenders in an unscripted elimination competition. The winner will get a ticket to ride on SpaceShipTwo. Details of the show's format, or when it will air, have not been released.
As part of the deal, Virgin Galactic will give the production team "unprecedented access" to SpaceShipTwo's base at Spaceport American in New Mexico, series backer NBC said in a news release.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)