The first dog in space. First man and first woman. Now Russia is preparing to make another leap ahead of the United States: it is preparing to overtake Hollywood by sending a film crew into orbit for the first time in history.
On Tuesday morning, October 5, the Russian actress, director and professional Russian cosmonaut are to travel to the International Space Station aboard a Russian rocket. Their task is to shoot a series of scenes for the first full-length film right in space. For a long time, we have seen scenes from space on large screens, filmed in special pavilions using the latest computer graphics technologies, but never before has a full-length film been shot directly in outer space.
When will the launch take place and how can I watch it?
The Soyuz rocket, the workhorse of the Russian space program, will launch at 4:55 am ET (11:55 Moscow time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft, with three crew members on board, will be scheduled to dock at the space station approximately three hours later, at 8:12 am ET.
NASA, which operates the space station with Russia, will begin broadcasting the launch of the spacecraft at 4:15 am ET. The next broadcast – the docking process – will begin at 7:30 am ET.
The actress and director travel to the International Space Station to shoot scenes for a new feature film in orbit. Cinematic fiction is likely to play a secondary role compared to the symbolic meaning of the first ever filming in space, the author believes.
Who flies into space?
Russian actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko fly into space under the guidance of the spacecraft commander Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran of astronautics who has made three flights to the International Space Station since 2011. Peresild spent several months preparing for this flight. Earlier this year, she battled dozens of other actresses for the role. Alena Mordovina became Peresild’s understudy – it is she who will fly into orbit if something prevents the first train from going there.
What movie will they be filming on the space station?
The working title of the film is “Challenge”. It is about a woman surgeon (Peresild) who is forced to urgently go to the space station to save the life of a sick astronaut. While other details regarding the plot of the film and the filming process aboard the space station are kept secret.
Why are they filming a movie in orbit?
In the case of Challenge, cinematic fiction is likely to play a secondary role in comparison to the symbolic meaning of the first ever filming in space. This is a joint project of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the state-owned Channel One and the Russian film studio Yellow, Black and White.
Channel One and Roskosmos hope that, like many private space missions in our time, this film will demonstrate to the public that space is open not only to astronauts. One of the main objectives of this project is to show that “space flights are gradually becoming available not only for professionals, but also for an ever wider circle of those who wish,” as stated on the website of Channel One.
Funding for the Russian space program is gradually starting to wane. Since 2011, when the United States scaled down its space shuttle program, NASA has been able to send its astronauts to the space station only on Soyuz rockets, spending significant funds on these flights. But now that has changed, as in 2020, successful tests of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon rocket proved that astronauts can fly into space from American soil. The United States recently stopped purchasing Russian rocket engines, which have long been used for space launches, which in turn have generated billions in profits for Moscow.