Moscow, Oct. 6 (BNA): A Russian actor and film director blasted off into space Tuesday on a mission to produce the world’s first film in orbit, a project the Kremlin said would help polish the country’s space glory.
Actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko blasted off to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran of three space missions. The Soyuz MS-19 aircraft took off as scheduled at 1:55 pm (0855 GMT) from Russia’s space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan and arrived at the station about 3½ hours later, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Shkaplerov took the manual controls to smoothly dock the spacecraft into the space location after a malfunction of the automatic docking system.
The trio reported that they feel fine and that the spacecraft’s systems are operating normally.
Peresild and Klimenko will be filming clips from a new movie called The Challenge, in which a surgeon performed by Peresild rushes to the space station to rescue a crew member who needs urgent surgery in orbit.
After 12 days in the space focus, they are scheduled to return to Earth with another Russian cosmonaut.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the mission would help demonstrate Russia’s prowess in space.
“We have been cosmonauts and have maintained a confident position,” Peskov said. “missions like this that help publicize our achievements and space exploration in general are great for the country.”
Speaking at a pre-flight news conference on Monday, the 37-year-old Peresild admitted that it has been difficult for her to adapt to the strict discipline and demands of the training.
“It was psychologically, physically and morally difficult,” she said. “But I think once we hit the target, it all won’t seem so difficult and we’ll remember it with a smile.”
Shipenko, 38, who has produced several commercially successful films, described his quick preparation for the four-month trip as difficult.
“Of course, we couldn’t do many things on the first try, sometimes on the third try, but that’s normal,” he said.
Shipenko, who will complete filming on Earth after filming the space episodes of the film, said Shkaplerov and two other Russian cosmonauts now aboard the station – Oleg Novitsky and Piotr Dubrov – will all play roles in the new film.
The state-controlled Russian TV Channel One, which is involved in the making of the film, extensively covered the training of the crew and the launch.
“I am in shock. Peresild’s daughter, Anna, said in televised remarks minutes after the launch, she saw her eyes teary.
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space company Roscosmos, was a major force behind the project, calling it an opportunity to polish the nation’s space glory and dismissing criticism from some Russian media.
“I expect the project will help draw attention to our space program, to the profession of cosmonauts,” Rogozin told reporters on Tuesday. “We need a better visualization of space research. The space deserves to be presented in a more professional and subtle way.”
After congratulating the crew on the successful docking, Rogozin said that he personally edited the script for the film to correctly reflect the realities of spaceflight.
“Half of some real emergencies that might happen there,” he said. According to the script, the astronaut character in the movie needs urgent surgery after hitting space debris.
However, some commentators have argued that the film project would distract the Russian crew and it might be embarrassing to film the Russian part of the International Space Station, which is much less spacious compared to the American part. A new Russian laboratory unit, the Nauka, was added in July, but not fully integrated into the station.
At the space station, the three arrivals were joined by station commander Thomas Bisquet of the European Space Agency. NASA astronauts Mark Vandy He, Shane Kimbrough and Megan MacArthur; cosmonauts Roscosmos Novitsky and Dubrov; Aki Hoshied of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
After the gates between Soyuz and the station opened, the trio roared around, smiling and exchanging hugs with the station crew.
“I feel like I’m dreaming,” Peresild said during a short television interview with the Mission Control Center in Moscow.
Shipenko echoed this sentiment: “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and in fact we now feel like we’re in a dream.”
Nowitzki, who will star as a sick astronaut in the film, will take the captain’s seat in a Soyuz capsule to bring the film’s crew back to Earth on October 17.
Before Russia took the lead in making feature films in space, NASA spoke with actor Tom Cruise about making a movie in orbit.
NASA confirmed last year that it was in talks with Cruise about filming on the International Space Station with SpaceX providing the elevator. In May 2020, it was reported that Cruise was developing the project along with director Doug Liman, Elon Musk, and NASA.
Last month, representatives of SpaceX’s first private charter flight said the actor participated in a call with the four space tourists who orbited at an altitude of more than 585 kilometers (360 miles).
Lyman told the AP that he was contacted for the “impossible” mission by producer PJ van Sandwijk who simply asked him if he wanted to shoot a movie in outer space. Details have been largely kept under wraps and no updates have been given on the situation recently, but as of January Lehmann said they are moving forward.
“There’s a lot of technical stuff that we’re discovering,” Lyman said. “It’s really exciting because when you make a movie with Tom Cruise, you have to put things on screen that no one has seen before.”