Tomorrow morning, Russia will send the first commercial film crew to the International Space Station (ISS), beating NASA, SpaceX, and Tom Cruise. Russia will become the first nation to film a feature-length film in space, adding to its list of firsts — satellite, dog, man, and woman – in the present space race. Klim Shipenko and Yulia Peresild will spend ten days on board the ISS recording scenes for the Russian film Challenge, which is described as a space drama about a female surgeon’s voyage to the ISS to conduct surgery on a cosmonaut who is too sick to return to Earth.
Former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine revealed last year that the agency was “eager to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space Station!” and that he was “excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space Station!” There has been little information since that statement, however, Cruise reported to be launching on a SpaceX mission this month. Maybe they altered their minds after Russia beat them to the punch.
Although this will be the first film made in space, footage captured by Richard Garriot (whom IFLScience just met with) during his time as a private citizen aboard the International Space Station in 2008 formed the 8-minute long Apogee of Fear. It wills be, however, be the first time a professional film crew shoots footage for a feature-length film in space. The three cosmonauts on board will also have minor roles to perform.
In November 2020, Russia began their quest, claiming, “We need more than simply an actress – we need a real superhero.” Because this is not just any acting role, the appropriate person had to be able to sprint 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) in less than 3.5 minutes, swim 800 meters (2,625 feet) freestyle in less than 20 minutes, and dive from a 3-meter (10-foot) springboard. Although Peresild has participated in popular Russian TV shows and films, the acting experience was not legally required. One approach to achieve international success is to launch to the literal stars. Galina Kairova, a 26-year-old pilot, was not chosen for the post, but she was recruited to continue cosmonaut selection at Roscosomos.
Unlike the recent Inspiration4 mission, which was the first all-civilian crew to travel to space, the director and actor will be joined by Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran cosmonaut on his fourth voyage. Peresild and Shipenko have both completed pre-flight training, which included a parabolic plane flight to simulate microgravity, centrifuge tests, and parachute training.
In a news conference, Peresild, who will become the first actor in space, remarked of the microgravity journey, “It’s scary for the first two seconds.” “After that, it’s lovely.”
The ISS’s scheduled departures have been rearranged due to the quick trip to orbit. On the return of Soyuz, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonaut Petr Dubrov have handed up their seats to the film crew, extending their space trip to nearly a year and a half, with a return date of March 2022. Vande Hei will thereby shatter veteran astronaut Scott Kelly’s 353-day record for the longest single space journey. On October 5, the Soyuz will launch from Kazakhstan at 4:55 a.m. ET. The launch will broadcast live on NASA’s website, with the hatch opened to greet the new crewmembers around 9:30 a.m. ET.