Cable network greenlights Richard Branson's space tour
National Geographic Channel has greenlit a series chronicling the efforts of Virgin’s Richard Branson to make space tourism a reality. The cabler also gave renewals to four programs.The four-episode “Virgin Galactic,” premiering in the spring, will depict Branson and engineer Burt Rutan’s efforts to create a business that will send 50,000 people into space over a 10-year period. Skein marks Branson’s second TV foray in recent months; “Fly Girls,” a reality series in production for the CW, spotlights flight attendants on airline Virgin America (Daily Variety, Sept. 23). Nat Geo also said it will present more episodes of returning programs “Expedition Great White” (spotlighting ongoing research on wild great white sharks), “Lock-down” (documenting life inside prison), “Alaska State Troopers” and “Garbage Moguls.” In addition, Nat Geo announced four specials for the coming year, including “Space Dive,” a two-hour BBC production telling the story of Felix Baumgartner’s attempt to set a height record for balloon travel that will be topped off by a jump to earth. Baumgartner is expected to travel nearly 700 mph in freefall. Also coming: “The Real Slumdogs,” a documentary on the Dharavi area of Mumbai where “Slumdog Millionaire” was set; “Hitler’s Secret Weapons”; and “My Child Is a Monkey,” a documentary about people who adopt these swinging pets and raise them as children.