Virgin Galactic: NBC to Televise First Commercial Space Trip Live August 2014
NBC Universal has won the rights to televise the first-ever commercial space flight. According to Time magazine, the "Today Show" will air a primetime special the night before Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson's launch into space followed by a three-hour live special event on the "Today Show" hosted by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.
Branson and his two children, Holly and Sam, will be the first passengers to travel into space next year aboard the commercial flight. The live coverage will be broadcast on CNBC, MSNBC, The Weather Channel and Sy-Fy.
According to Today.com, if testing goes according to plan the flight is scheduled to leave next August from New Mexico's Spaceport America with more flights to follow.
"They are hoping for August, but it's completely engineering-driven," Sharon Scott, president and general manager of Peacock Productions told Today. "There's no guarantee for that. August is the desire."
Branson said in a statement that Virgin Galactic was "thrilled that NBC Universal will join us on our exciting first journey to space," according to Today.
"In this first chapter of commercial space travel, we will help make space accessible and inspire countless more people to join us in the pursuit of space exploration and science innovation," he said.
Seats onboard the spaceship is going for $250,000. So far 640 customers have signed up including celebrities like Justin Bieber and his manager Scooter Braun. The "Boyfriend" singer announced the news in June. Other Hollywood stars reportedly making the trip into space are Tom Hanks, Victoria Principal, Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Brightman, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and scientist Stephen Hawkings.
According to US Weekly, Lady Gaga has also bought a seat on the spaceship and will become the first performer to sing in outer space. The 27-year-old's flight is scheduled for 2015. Sources said she will sing on her "future hit songs" during the Zero G Colony high-tech musical festival in New Mexico.
"She has to do a month of vocal training because of the atmosphere," a source said adding that her "glam squad" will join her in outer space.
Scott said the broadcast contract will immediately go into effect so the network can capture anything and everything that happens between now and the launch.
"There's just a billion stories, and we'll have access to all of them," she said. "Without a doubt, Sir Richard and his children taking the first commercial flight into space will go down in history as one of the most memorable events on television."
According to the Daily Mail, at the height of the trip, passengers "would feel a few minutes of weightlessness, get a view of the curving Earth beneath a black sky, and then experience a roller-coaster ride back down to a runway landing."