Nat Geo to Air Live Special From International Space Station (Exclusive)

Howard T. Owens Executive Suite - H 2013
Joshua Cogan

Howard T. Owens Executive Suite - H 2013

National Geographic Channel is heading into outer space. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the cable network is set to air a live special from the International Space Station and Mission Control in Houston in March.

Aptly titled Live From Space, the two-hour program will feature orbiting astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata, with notable NASA engineer Mike Massimino appearing down on Earth. The space station duo will conduct a tour of the $100 billion facility, showcasing experiments from the floating laboratory.

Q&A: Nat Geo's Howard T. Owens on Bill O'Reilly and 'The Bible's' Allure

Nat Geo's move, which coincides with an order for a second Inside Combat Rescue and finalizing plans for its Miracle Landing on the Hudson special, comes as the cable network makes a bigger push into event programming. Previous ratings success has come with SEAL Team Six: The Hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Inside 9/11, The 80s: The Decade That Made Us and Bill O'Reilly histories Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln.

Space has been a ratings boon to others as well. In 2012, Discovery saw its highest-rated daytime program ever when Felix Baumgartner made a live jump from the stratosphere in front of an average 4.2 million viewers. Mark Burnett's space competition, a reality show where contestants vie for a seat on Sir Richard Branson's commercial spaceship, also recently landed at NBC after a bidding war.

“Every day at NGC our team tries to reach for the stars,” said NGC president Howard T. Owens. “Now we are literally able to do it. We are honored to have secured such amazing access to the station and the astronauts living there, and are exhilarated by the tremendous challenge to show Earth live.”

Live From Space, produced by Arrow Media, will coincide with Fox's Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey. The broadcast special is a joint venture between Fox and Nat Geo.

“We’re thrilled to be making this unique event for NGC Worldwide,” said Arrow Media creative director Tom Brisley. “The technological and logistical challenges of broadcasting live from space may be enormous, but there’s no bigger buzz than creating mind-blowing content that works in microgravity, on the world’s largest spacecraft.” 

Nat Geo is making Live From Space, as well as Memorial Day's Inside Combat Rescue: The Last Stand and June's Miracle Landing on the Hudson, a multi-channel event. All three also will air on Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo. Additionally, Live From Space will simulcast in the U.K. on Channel 4. The network is plotting a second-screen experience for Live From Space, where viewers can interact with Mastracchio and Wakata.

Executive producers on Live From Space are Arrow's Al Berman and Sally Dixon and Nat Geo's Madeleine Carter.

As for the other projects, Nat Geo has released clips of both Inside Combat Rescue and Miracle (below). The latter will be the first special to focus on the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549, which famously crash-landed in the Hudson River without a single casualty thanks to the efforts of Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.