real International Space Station

Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: “Live From Space” will show us Life in Space — what it’s like living and working aboard the International Space Station.

You know, that giant prop from “Gravity.”

And that, sadly, is pretty much what most of us know about the ISS, even though it’s been continuously inhabited by humans from around the globe, doing awesome science work, for 13 years now. Put it in a megastar movie, and suddenly we care.

So NASA is seizing the moment to take us around the world — live — inside the ISS, which completes an Earth orbit every 90 minutes at 17,500 miles per hour. As Soledad O’Brien hosts from Houston’s Johnson Space Center, we’ll go into orbit with ISS astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata, while getting ground commentary from colleague, Franklin Square’s Mike Massimino (he fixed the Hubble Telescope).

They’ll be our tour guides around a space structure like the one through which Sandra Bullock floated, showing firsthand how its crew members work out, sleep and eat. Surprise: Their orbital home has more livable space than a six-bedroom house. And two bathrooms.

But it’s a workplace, too. “Live From Space” aims to show actual experiments in real time. Inspiring Bullock’s movie adventure, the ISS crew has made more than 175 spacewalks, up to five hours at a time.

And they’ve found their own extravehicular drama. Last July, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano almost drowned in space when his helmet sprang a leak and filled with water; it nearly did him in before he could scramble back to the hatch of the airlock.

Thanks to “Gravity,” we can throw around terms like that. Now “Live From Space” wants us to know what they really mean. And what it’s really like to see our Earth rotate — in real time — 220 miles beneath our floating feet.

MORE TO EXPLORE: Watch a live ISS video feed, follow its flight path, explore its component parts, meet the crew, wave hi to them, learn lots at the interactive site livefromspace.com



8-10 p.m. Friday on NatGeo (simulcast in Spanish on NatGeo Mundo)