Russian actor and director to launch first space film with cosmonaut

Veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, actor Yulia Peresild and film producer Klim Shipenko will visit the International Space Station to Tuesday. Peresild and Shipenko will shoot segments for the film “Challenge”, the first feature film set in space.

The the film will tell the story of a surgeon who must operate on a sick cosmonaut in space because his state of health prevents him from returning to Earth for treatment.

The three space travelers will take off aboard a Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:55 a.m. ET on Tuesday. The rapid Soyuz will deliver them to the space station around 8:12 a.m.

The current space station crew, including European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrovnik will all welcome the trio on board when the hatch opens around 9:30 a.m.

Live coverage of these events will be available on NASA TV and website.
“The launch will mark the expansion of commercial space opportunities to include the making of feature films,” according to one NASA exit. The film is being made under a commercial agreement between Roscosmos and Moscow media entities Channel One and studio Yellow, Black and White, the agency said.

This is a short break for new space station visitors Peresild and Shipenko, who will spend 12 days on the space station filming before returning to Earth on October 16. They will be joined on their return trip by Novitskiy.

Shkaplerov will remain on the space station and return to Earth in March with Vande Hei and Dubrovnik on the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft. When Vande Hei lands after his 355 consecutive days on the space station, he will have completed the longest one-astronaut space flight in US history, according to NASA.

A few films have been shot aboard the space station, including a 2002 IMAX documentary narrated by Tom Cruise. “Apogee of Fear,” a 2012 sci-fi film lasting about eight minutes, was also shot in space by entrepreneur and space tourist Richard Garriott, the son of an astronaut.

But Russia is set to become the first nation to shoot a feature film in space.

Peresild and Shipenko, well known in Russia, were selected after the country’s space agency, Roscosmos, opened a competition for applications in November. Peresild has appeared in a number of Russian films and TV series, while he was one of the highest grossing films in Russia.

The two civilians underwent rigorous training before their space trip. In addition to the liners, the actor and director prepared by performing centrifuge and vibration support tests, weightless training flights, and parachute training, all covered by Channel One.

The crew trained to photograph and film and use equipment they will interact with on the space station.

Other cosmonauts on board, including Novitskiy, will assist and be part of the film crew as their resources are more limited in the space environment. The schedules of the astronauts on the space station are already well choreographed so that they can work on experiments and see to necessary maintenance tasks and other priorities.

The film “is part of a large-scale scientific and educational project, which also includes a series of documentaries to shoot about the companies and specialists in the rocket and space industry involved in the manufacture of launchers, d ‘spacecraft and ground-based space infrastructure. The project will become a clear example of how spaceflight is gradually becoming available not only to professionals, but also to an increasingly wide range of interested persons, “according to Roscosmos.
Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman revealed in 2020 that they were working together on a film to shoot in space, with the cooperation of NASA. The project is developed in collaboration with SpaceX by Elon Musk. Reports have suggested that Cruise’s stay on the space station could also take place in October, but no definitive date for its launch has been shared – although he spoke with the all-civilian crew of SpaceX Inspiration 4 during of their recent trip to space.

Jackie Wattles, Olga Pavlova and Sara Spary contributed to this report.

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