October 6, 2021, 11:41 AM IST
A Russian actor and director descended into space on Tuesday to produce the world’s first film in orbit, a project the Kremlin says will help revive the country’s space image.
Actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko took off to the International Space Station aboard 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 (08:55 GMT) from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, arriving at the station about 3:30 am.
Shkaplerov took manual controls to gently dock the spacecraft to the space position after a problem with the automatic docking system.
The trio said they feel good and the spaceship’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 expected 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 attitude,” Peskov said. Such missions that help publicize our achievements and space exploration in general are excellent for the country. “
Speaking at a pre-flight news conference on Monday, Peresild, 37, admitted that it has been difficult for him to adapt to strict discipline and strict demands during training.
“It was psychologically, physically and morally difficult,” she said. “But I believe that once the goal is achieved it will not seem so difficult and we will remember it with a smile.”
Shipenko, 38, who has directed several commercially successful films, described their rushed preparation for the four-month journey as difficult.
“Of course, we couldn’t do much on the first try, sometimes on the third try, but that’s okay,” he said.
Shipenko, who will complete filming on Earth after filming the space episodes for the film, said Shkaplerov and two other Russian cosmonauts now aboard the station — Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrovnik — will all have roles in the new film.
The first Russian state-controlled TV channel, which is involved in the making of the film, provided extensive coverage of the training of the crew and the launch.
“I’m in shock,” Peresild’s daughter Anna said in televised remarks minutes after the launch as she rolled her eyes with tears.
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian state space company Roscosmos, was a major force behind the project, calling it an opportunity to restore space glory to the nation and dismissing criticism from some Russian media.
“I expect the project will help draw attention to our space program and 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 artistic 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.
“We are describing some of the real emergencies that could arise there,” he said. According to the scenario, the astronaut character in the movie needs urgent surgery after being hit by space debris.
However, some commentators have argued that the film project distracts the Russian crew and may be inappropriate to depict the Russian part of the International Space Station, which is much less spacious than the American part. A new Russian laboratory unit, the Nauka, was added in July, but it has not yet been 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 Dubrovnik; Aki Hoshied of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
After the gates opened between Soyuz and the station, the trio circled inside, smiling and exchanging hugs with the station’s crew.
“I feel like I’m dreaming,” Peresild said during a short television interview with the Moscow Control Center.
Shipenko echoed this sentiment: “We have been waiting for this for a long time, and in fact, we now feel that we are in a dream.”
Nowitzki, who will play a sick astronaut in the film, will take the captain’s seat in the 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 the possibility of making a film in orbit.
NASA confirmed last year that it was in talks with Cruise to film 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 flew at an altitude of more than 585 kilometers (360 miles).
Lehmann told the Associated Press 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 space. Details have been largely kept under wraps and no status update has been given recently, but in January Lehmann said they were 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.”
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