Russia has always prided itself on being first for a number of space exploration milestones, and today it can count itself as the first country to launch a film crew into space.
This morning at 1.55am PT, actor Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko and veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov blasted off to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft where Shipenko and Pereslid will be filming segments for The Challenge. Russia’s Channel One broadcasted the launch today and offered livestreams in multiple languages across its platforms.
The project will be the first feature film shot in outer space, beating Tom Cruise and Elon Musk’s upcoming $200M action adventure with NASA and Space X, which has director Doug Liman at the helm.
The Challenge is a collaboration between Russian space agency Roscosmos, public broadcaster Channel One and Yellow, Black and White. Russia’s Central Partnership will distribute the title, which is about the story of a Russian doctor who is sent to the International Space Station to save the life of a cosmonaut.
The film crew will spend 12 days on the space station along with its current crew European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.
Shipenko, the director behind hit Russian comedy Son Of A Rich, and screen and stage actor Peresild, underwent rigorous training ahead of the journey, including centrifuge and vibration stand tests, training flights and parachute training, all of which were also covered by Channel One.
Speaking at video press conference on Monday in advance of Tuesday’s launch, Shipenko spoke of the fast-tracked training to prep for the epic journey.
“We underwent an accelerated course of many important elements that the cosmonauts study over many years,” the director said. “We tried to master them in four months. Of course, this is very fast. We had a lot of theory, practice, endurance, sports – everything imaginable. It seems to me, this is a rather feasible task – naturally not to become a cosmonaut at the level of Anton and other professionals but to prepare as a participant of a space flight.”
Pereslid added: “The entire time we worked very hard. Despite our cheerful disposition and smiles, we got very tired. Had I been told this once again, of course, I would come here understanding the matter. But I still would come.”
The spacecraft is expected to dock at the space station around 5.12am PT today.
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