Russian film crew blasts off to make world’s first movie in space
A Russian actress and a film director blasted off for the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, beating “Mission Impossible” star Tom Cruise in the race to shoot the world’s first movie in space.
Actor Yulia Peresild, 37, and film director Klim Shipenko, 38, blasted off for the ISS in a Russian Soyuz Spacecraft together with cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran of three space missions. Their Soyuz MS-19 lifted off as scheduled at 1:55pm from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan and successfully reached the designated orbit.
Space officials reported that the crew was feeling fine and all spacecraft systems were functioning normally.
"Launch as planned," the head of the Roscosmos space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, said on Twitter. Led by veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, the film crew will travel in a Soyuz MS-19 spaceship for a 12-day mission at the ISS to film scenes for "The Challenge."
A live broadcast on Russian TV showed the Soyuz spacecraft ascending into a cloudless sky. "The crew is feeling well," Shkaplerov was heard saying in the broadcast several minutes after takeoff.
The movie's plot, which has been mostly kept under wraps along with its budget, was revealed by Roscosmos to centre around a female surgeon who is dispatched to the ISS to save a cosmonaut.
Shkaplerov and two other Russian cosmonauts aboard the ISS are said to have cameo roles in the film.
The launch to film the movie "The challenge" puts Russia on course to beat the United States in the latest chapter of the space race. Actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko will reach the cosmos ahead of Cruise, whose plans to blast off on a SpaceX rocket for an as-yet-untitled Hollywood film were announced by Nasa last year.
Russia's own space industry has in recent years been dogged by delays, accidents and corruption scandals, while US-based private firms backed by rich businessmen such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have developed new spaceships.
Peresild and Shipenko were accompanied at the launch of their 12-day mission by two Russian cosmonauts.
"It was difficult psychologically, physically and emotionally... but I think when we reach our goal all the challenges won't seem so bad," Peresild — who was selected out of 3,000 applicants for the role — said at a pre-flight press conference on Monday.
True to a pre-flight tradition religiously observed by cosmonauts, the crew said that on Sunday they watched the classic Soviet film "The White Sun of the Desert."
Shipenko and Peresild are expected to return to Earth on Oct.17 in a capsule with cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who has been on the ISS for the past six months.
If successful, the mission will add to a long list of firsts for Russia's space industry.