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And… take action! 1st space film in progress with a Russian crew

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Actress Yulia Peresild, cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and director Klim Shipenko during their training for their October 2021 flight to the International Space Station in October. Peresild will star in scenes from a new film called Challenge – the 1st space movie – directed by Shipenko. Image via GCTC / SpaceNews.

In 3, 2, 1… 1st film in space

The Soyuz 2.1a which took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the Russian spaceport in southern Kazakhstan, has been theatrically decorated for the first film to be shot in space. It transported Russian actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko to the International Space Station (ISS) alongside veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who commanded the capsule. Trips to the ISS typically last between 8 and 22 hours in several orbits around the Earth. This Soyuz used what is called a 2-orbital scheme and connected to the space station only 4 hours after launch.

Peresild and Shipenko – who are not cosmonauts but civilian passengers – said they enjoyed the sunrises and sunsets they saw during the flight. And Peresild told Channel One Russia during a welcoming ceremony on the station:

I always feel like it’s all a dream, and I still sleep.

Shipenko agreed. He said:

Yes, it is almost impossible to think that all of this has come true.

The Soyuz was should dock autonomously, but a communication glitch prompted Shkaplerov to take manual control. Director Shipenko turned the cameras on during the approach and joked that the last minute drama was staged to add suspense to the film’s plot.

Dmitry Rogozin – the director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos – communicated by radio to Shkaplerov after the successful docking:

It was a bit dramatic at the end to make your movie more dramatic.

The rocket takes off.
The Soyuz rocket carrying Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild takes off to the International Space Station on Tuesday, October 5, 2021. Image via Roscosmos / Reuters / South China Morning Post.

Bad luck, Tom Cruise

While cinematic footage has long used sound scenes and computer graphics, a feature film has never been shot and made in space. The film, called The challenge, will use 12 days of on-board station registration. Its plot follows a medic who flies to the ISS on short notice to provide life-saving care to a cosmonaut struck by a heart attack while on a spacewalk. According to New York Times, Russia has changed its flight schedule to anticipate plans by NASA and SpaceX to support the launch of actor Tom Cruise, who is also set to star in a space movie. The cruise-starring action flick – first announced in 2020 – does not yet have a disclosed launch date.

Cruise made a statement about the concept of films shot in space in a 2002 documentary:

What an incredible sight: a Hollywood special effect, you think. But no. This is for real.

In the Russian film, Peresild will play the surgeon, while cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky will play the sick space traveler. Shkaplerov and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrovnik are also expected to make cameos. Most of the filming is expected to take place in the Russian segment of the ISS. Some, however, will be shot in the Earth Observation Cupola, which is part of the US module. Both flight participants will need to be escorted out of the Russian segment.

1st film in space;  A woman and two men dressed in white suits, with masks covering their noses and mouths, walk and wave to the crowd around them.
From left to right: actress Yulia Peresild, cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and director Klim Shipenko. Image via Ramil Sitdikov / Getty Images / Mashable.

An era for civilian spaceflight

Shipenko and Peresild are expected to return to Earth in another Soyuz spacecraft on October 17. He will also bring home Novitsky, who has been living on the space station since April of this year.

The Dubrovnik and US astronaut Mark T. Vande Hei’s missions were, however, extended by six months to accommodate the film project. They are now expected to return to Earth in April 2022 with Shkaplerov, according to Scientific American. In doing so, the expansion will make Vande Hei’s space flight the longest of all American astronauts in history with a record 353 days. This beats the 340-day race of current record holder Scott Kelly.

The Russian launch follows the very first all-civilian flight to Earth orbit: SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission, which launched on September 15, 2021. Inspiration4 – curated by Jared Isaacman, billionaire CEO of Shift4 Payments – didn’t meet with the ISS, however. Instead, the crew zoomed much higher than the orbiting lab and circled the planet for three days. It was a charity space flight that raised more than $ 13 million in donations for St. Jude, the pediatric cancer research center.

What an exciting time for space flights!

Bottom line: A Russian spacecraft launched to the International Space Station on October 5, 2021, to begin filming what is expected to become the first space movie. The Soyuz 2.1a transported Russian actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko to the station alongside veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who commanded the capsule. He hooked up to the space station about four hours later.

Learn more about EarthSky: Inspiration4, the first fully civilian crew to go to space

Via Space.com

Via ScientificAmerican.com

Via the New York Times


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