“The cameras are on and the gloves are off in this battle of the sexes in space.
With the future of NASA in serious doubt, former U.S. astronaut Buzz Aldrin told Discover magazine’s Kathy Svitil during a 2006 interview how he foresaw a future ‘landscape’ in which private citizens could buy lottery tickets for a chance to win a trip into space.
“You could also have contests, television game shows,” Aldrin said.
Great man, bad idea.
Say hello to Robin and Joe—contestants in 2034’s “Space Games,” a high-stakes reality TV show from Hollywood producer Sheldon J. Zimmer that is set aboard next-generation space station, ISS 2. The winner takes home a multimillion-dollar jackpot and a chance at stardom, while the loser faces the ultimate in public humiliation. Only former NASA astronaut Vince, acting as the station’s commander and the games’ sole referee, can separate sexy spitfire and martial artist, Robin Miller, from her brutal opponent, “Big Joe” O’Donnell, as the pair compete inside the cramped zero-g environs. Watched by millions of people back on Earth, the reality show rapidly degenerates into a deadly, live spectacle.”
(And as the lights go down in the house, applause reaches deafening levels as Chat show host Mortimer Dukes takes the stage to interview Station Commander Vince via satellite…):
Thank you for taking time off from your schedule to talk to us about this show. Let’s begin at the beginning :
How, from being a NASA astronaut, did you become a referee on a reality show (albeit one in space)?
Vince: Thanks for having me on Mr. Dukes. In answer to your question, NASA is—unfortunately—a much smaller agency than it once was due to federal budget cuts. Private enterprise has picked up the slack in terms of manned space missions which has forced astronauts like me to take whatever work we can find. I was employed part-time as a consultant training civilian astronauts when the Space Games people invited me to interview for the job as one of the station’s commanders and as the referee for the show. They wanted someone who not only had experience aboard a space station but who could keep the peace, which I did as an Air Force security officer prior to becoming an astronaut. The offer the show made me was nice. Given I had few other options, I took it.
How has it been, working with the contestants?
Vince: Let’s just say I’m counting down the days until the mission is over. If it weren’t for the paycheck …
That bad, huh?
Vince: Like I said before, I’ve been stationed with dozens of civilians up here, and Robin and Joe are by far the most high-maintenance, infantile pair of prima—uh, never mind. The show’ll probably dock my pay for talking about it.
Have you a training plan in mind for them, that you could share with us?
Vince: Robin and Joe have already gone through some fairly rigorous astronaut training back on Earth, both in the classroom and at the Johnson Space Center’s training facilities. Sure there are some things I’ve been teaching them on the fly, like basic station maintenance… In terms of physical training, it’s my job to ensure that both contestants exercise rigorously for at least one hour a day so their bodies don’t atrophy from the weightlessness. The events that are part of the show’s format afford them additional opportunity for exercise.
Do you have a bet on either one of them? How much?
Vince: That’s not permitted, so No.
I should tell you though, Mr. Dukes, that I don’t particularly like either contestant. Still, I don’t want to see anyone get seriously hurt, regardless of who wins.
What has been your worst moment in space with them so far ?
Vince: Hmm. That’s a tough one. It just gets worse and worse up here with each passing moment. I suppose it was having to perform intracranial surgery on Joe in zero gravity after Robin punched and kicked him repeatedly in the face. I’m not a doctor and I had to use a cordless drill to drain the cerebrospinal fluid so that he didn’t hemorrhage to death. They really don’t pay me enough.
Will you be doing more of this kind of TV in space? Or is NASA making you an offer you can’t refuse?
Vince: Mr. Dukes, I can say without hesitation that I don’t ever want to be stuck up in space with someone like Robin and Joe ever again.