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Channel 4 to broadcast programme live from the International Space Station

Lap of the Planet is due to air in March with two other space spin-offs planned

Channel 4 is to take a giant leap for broadcasting with a programme aired live from the International Space Station.

Dermot O’Leary will host the show, which promises to take viewers on a 90-minute trip around the world.

High definition images will be sent from 250 miles above the earth as the station orbits the planet at 17,500 miles per hour in Live from Space: Lap of the Planet, due to screen in March.

Professor Stephen Hawking, British astronaut Tim Peake and Hubble Telescope engineer Mike Massimo, will feature on the first of three planned space shows.

Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata will offer an insight into life on the International Space Station, including how gravity affects their working lives and bodies. In another episode, the work of Mission Control will be explored.

Producers are hoping that Lap of the Planet will give a more realistic view of life and troubles in space than disaster blockbusters such as Gravity.

Daniel Glover, head of specialist factual at Channel 4, said: “To have been granted this access by Nasa to the ISS and Mission Control is a true British TV first.

“We hope to show what life on board is really like, what happens when things go wrong and then finally giving viewers a live lap of planet Earth.”

US cable broadcaster National Geographic Channel will simulcast the live programme – the first time that Nasa has granted behind-the-scenes filming of Mission Control.

Presenter O’Leary, best-known for The X Factor, revealed that space has “always held a fascination” for him. “I had to try hard not to revert back to being the 8-year-old kid and the excitement I felt watching the first space shuttle take off in ’81,” he said.

The ISS has been in operation for 15 years, after taking 10 years to make from 135 rocket launches and 200 spacewalks.

Last year, Canadian commander Chris Hadfield recorded a cover version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on board the ISS. He posted the video on YouTube before handing command over to his successor, Pavel Vinogradov, and returning to earth.