60-Second Science

NASA Airs Real Reality TV Show

Shouldn't live coverage of astronauts working in space be more compelling than staged reality TV shows? Steve Mirsky inquires.

The space shuttle Discovery landed on Wednesday, after 15 days in orbit above the Earth.  NASA’s TV channel is available on the satellite system I have at home, so at one point during the mission, I tuned in.  And there was an astronaut, live, in space, doing some construction work on the International Space Station. 

I’m not a fan of reality TV—I’ve never seen Survivor or the Amazing Race or any of the other programs that get big ratings.  But here was real reality TV, including a real Survivor—Daniel Tani, an astronaut who had made it through multiple levels of tests to get chosen in the first place, who had then undergone years of rigorous training and who was at that very moment performing incredibly dangerous work in outer space!  And that left me a bit baffled.  How is it that staged reality TV shows attract tens of millions of viewers, but the televised exploits of people risking their lives in space are pretty much ignored?  Feel free to leave a comment in the podcast section at our new site,

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