Tonight on prime-time television, for the first time ever, NASA will open the doors of its Mission Control Center in Houston to a live TV crew.
Viewers who tune into National Geographic Channel at 8 p.m. will get to witness ground control interact with members of the International Space Station, as they complete a single orbit of Earth.
The Live From Space special will offer stunning views from the space station, as it speeds around Earth at 17,150 mph.
"We're with the astronauts for two hours and we're seeing what they see," Al Berman, executive producer of Live From Space, told collectSPACE. "We are looking down through the [windowed] Cupola as we pass over mountain ranges and towns, countries and oceans, and we go from day into night and back into day again, sunrise and sunset and then a little bit more. And while all that is unfolding, we are showing a really tremendous backstory about what is happening on the ISS, what is behind the scenes. It is a real eye-opener."
"I don't think audiences have seen anything that compares to this," Berman said. "If they've any interest in space at all, I think they will be riveted throughout the entire time."
Berman says his production team has a contingency plan -- including a plethora of taped material -- in case something goes awry and they lose signal with astronauts for longer than expected. They even have a backup location.
"Smoke alarms can be triggered by other activities on the space station such that they are false alarms, so what do we do?" he said. "The answer is that we are prepared to do everything from buying a few minutes to doing an entire broadcast without the signal from the station."
The broadcast will be hosted by veteran journalist Soledad O'Brien.