Russia First to Make a Feature Film on the International Space Station

A Russian actress and director were launched into space this week, headed for the International Space Station (ISS) to shoot scenes for the very first feature film to be made in orbit.

Although Tom Cruise announced he wanted to be the first one to make a movie in space, it seems that Russia has beaten Hollywood to the punch as reported by The New York Times.

Russian actress Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko, and Russian astronaut guide Anton Shkaplerov boarded on a Soyuz rocket, which lifted off on Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It headed for the ISS where the creative duo wants to start work on the first-ever movie to be filmed in orbit.

Peresild has performed in over 70 roles onscreen, however, her talent wasn’t the only thing that contributed to her being picked for this role. She was selected from around 3,000 other applicants in a two-stage selection process where participants had their creativity, medical, and physical fitness examined.

The movie is set to be titled “The Challenge” and tells a story of a surgeon, played by Peresild, who embarks on an emergency mission to the orbiting lab to save the life of an unwell cosmonaut, played by Oleg Novitsky, one of two Russian astronauts already stationed in ISS since April.

Although other types of productions have taken place in space — such as an eight-minute-long science fiction film “Apogee of Fear” and several documentaries containing footage shot aboard the station — “The Challenge” will include about 35 to 40 minutes of scenes actually made in the orbiting station, which makes it the first full-length movie to be filmed in space.

The capsule carrying the trio latched onto the space station at around 8:22 a.m. and kicked off the first shot — Peresild’s arrival. This scene was filmed by Pyotr Dubrov, the other resident of the Russian segment who took control of a large digital cinema camera, ready for the crew to open the hatch door and board the station.

“Undoubtedly, this mission is special, we have people going to space who are neither tourists nor professional cosmonauts,” says Dmitri Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. It is said that Rogozin hopes this flight will help the agency attract a new generation of talent.

The plan is to spend about two weeks filming on the space station before returning back to the Soyuz spacecraft — and to Earth — on October 17, 2021.

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