Shooting stars: Russia sends team into orbit to shoot first-ever film made in space

Russia blasts past Hollywood’s plans for a Tom Cruise-led film shot in space.

Shooting stars: Russia sends team into orbit to shoot first-ever film made in space
(Image: Roscosmos)

The space race is still on, and Russia yet again gains the upper hand after it successfully sends an actor and a director to the International Space Station (ISS) where they’re set to make history with the first-ever film to be shot in space.

On its Twitter account, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos posted pictures of veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, actor Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko arriving at the ISS. They left Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome on Tuesday and will embark on a 12-day mission to film scenes in space for a full-length feature aptly called The Challenge.

“Everything was new to us today, every 30 seconds brought something entirely new,” said Peresild after arriving at the station. “It is almost impossible to think that this all came to reality. i also feel like I’m still dreaming.”

The film will revolve around a surgeon dispatched to space to operate on a sick cosmonaut whose medical condition prevents him from returning to Earth. 

anadolu agency getty
(Image: Anadolu Agency/Getty)

Apart from Peresild, the accompanying Shkaplerov and two other Russian cosmonauts aboard the ISS, are said to have a cameo role in the project. It’s produced under a commercial agreement between Roscosmos and Moscow-based media entities Channel One and Studio Yellow, Black and White.

NASA also acknowledged the frontier-pushing film project. “The launch will mark the expansion of commercial space opportunities to include feature filmmaking,” read a press release by the agency. 

There have been a few films that feature segments shot aboard the space station. Space Station 3D, a 47-minute IMAX documentary narrated by Tom Cruise, shot scenes with astronauts aboard the Kennedy Space Center, while the 2012 science fiction film Apogee of Fear, also shot in the ISS, lasted about eight minutes.

This makes Russia’s The Challenge the first full-length film to be shot in space. 

Taking only four months to prepare for the project, the Russian team also snuck past the US, whose Hollywood had plans to also launch into space to shoot their own space-set film. It was last year when Deadline revealed that Tom Cruise was talking to Elon Musk’s SpaceX about potentially shooting an action-adventure movie in space. Afterward, NASA also revealed that the Cruise reached out to them about the lofty project.

“We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make Nasa’s ambitious plans a reality,” tweeted NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine.

Art Daniella Sison

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