‘Good Morning America’ anchor Michael Strahan’s mission to space raises some questions
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
ABC News said in its own story reporting the news that he was “invited” to join the six person crew but did not go into detail on what, if any, financial or other arrangements may have been made with Strahan or the network.
In its last mission, Blue Origin famously invited former “Star Trek” actor William Shatner aboard without having to pay in what was largely regarded as a genius publicity stunt, though it’s not clear if having Strahan aboard is a similar strategy.
Strahan covered the company’s July 2021 launch, which he said was what sparked his interest in space travel.
Multiple sources are reporting that only four of the six person crew are paying their way. Blue Origin did not disclose the cost.
However, actor Tom Hanks, who has play an astronaut in “Apollo 13” mentioned, perhaps off handedly, that he was approached to see if he was interested in buying a seat, which he said cost “something like” $28 million, though it’s not clear if that figure is accurate or what is being charged for this particular mission.
Strahan, as both a network anchor and former NFLer, could probably make the finances work.
He reportedly makes around $17 million a year at ABC News in addition to years of multi-million dollar contracts while he was in pro football.
When ABC moved him from “Live with Kelly and Michael” to “GMA” in 2016, he was forced to give up any promotional deals due to network news division policy. ABC reportedly took that into consideration when negotiating his new “GMA” salary.
Strahan also serves as a paid commentator for Fox Sports’ football coverage.
Strahan will travel along with Laura Shepard Churchley, whose great grandfather Alan Shepard was the first America to travel into space (and for whom the spacecraft is named). She is listed as an invited guest.
The journey will mark the first time the craft is sent to space with a full six person crew. The paying crew members include wealthy venture capitalists and investors.
Strahan revealed on “GMA” that he’s already been preparing for the trip for about two weeks, including getting fitted for his flight suit. He will also undergo extensive training on safety and emergency protocols.
He will receive a “stipend” for being part of the crew, but the exact amount wasn’t disclosed and he plans on donating it to charity.
It’s not clear if Blue Origin will give ABC any special access to the flight preparations or crew. In the past, Blue Origin missions, as well as those of competitors Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, have been carried live on cable and streaming services, largely making use of “pool” video feeds provided by the companies.
There is also a potential blurring of journalistic lines at play here — especially if Strahan’s seat is at free or reduced price. Strahan’s broadcasting career has centered on morning television, which already blurs those lines with paid segments.
However, since Strahan is technically considered “crew” he could be privileged to information that, possibly through NDAs, is likely supposed to be kept confidential despite his other “hat” as a news anchor.
It’s also worth noting that Strahan’s participation, no matter if he paid or not, is likely to garner significant publicity for Blue Origin as well as bring viewers to “GMA” should the network manage to get any special access.