The first dog in space. The first man and woman. Now Russia is about to clinch another spaceflight first before the United States: Beating Hollywood to orbit.
A Russian actress, a director and their professional Russian astronaut guide are set to launch on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station Tuesday morning. Their mission is to shoot scenes for the first feature-length film in space. While cinematic sequences in space have long been portrayed on big screens using sound stages and advanced computer graphics, never before has a full-length movie been shot and directed in space.
When is the launch and how can I watch it?
A Soyuz rocket, the workhorse of Russia’s space program, is scheduled for liftoff at 4:55 a.m. Eastern time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The MS-19 spacecraft carrying the three-person crew is expected to dock with the space station about three hours later, at 8:12 a.m.
NASA, which manages the space station in partnership with Russia, will begin streaming the launch at 4:15 a.m. Eastern time. Or you can watch the video in the player embedded above.
Another livestream for the spacecraft’s docking will start at 7:30 a.m.
According to live coverage by the Russian space agency, the astronaut crew has boarded the spacecraft and is preparing for launch.
Who is on the flight?
Yulia Peresild, a Russian actress, and Klim Shipenko, a director, will join Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran astronaut who has completed three treks to and from the space station since 2011. Ms. Peresild has spent months training for the mission. She auditioned for the role earlier this year in a competition with dozens of other actresses. Alyona Mordovina, the competition’s runner-up, is Ms. Peresild’s backup, and would go to orbit if something prevented the primary crew from launching to space.
The film crew will return to Earth on Oct. 17 along with Oleg Novitsky, who’s been on the station since April.
What movie are they making on the space station?
The movie’s working title is “The Challenge,” and it’s about a surgeon, played by Ms. Peresild, who embarks on an emergency mission to the space station to save an ailing cosmonaut’s life. Few other details about the plot or the filming aboard the station have been announced, although NASA said on Tuesday that Mr. Novitsky, one of the Russian astronauts currently aboard the station, will be a subject in the movie.
Why are they making a movie in orbit?
For “The Challenge,” cinematic storytelling may take a back seat to the symbolism of shooting a movie in space. The production is a joint project involving Russia’s space agency Roscosmos; Channel One Russia, a state-backed TV channel; and Yellow, Black and White, a Russian film studio.
Like a lot of private missions to space these days, Channel One and Roscosmos hope the film can prove to the public that space isn’t reserved for only government astronauts. One of the production’s core objectives is to show that “spaceflights are gradually becoming available not only for professionals, but also for an ever wider range of interested persons,” Channel One said on its website.
Funding for Russia’s space program is beginning to wane. Starting in 2011, when the U.S. space shuttle program ended, NASA could only send astronauts to the International Space Station by paying for expensive rides on one of Russia’s Soyuz rockets. But that ended in 2020 when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon proved itself capable of sending astronauts from American soil. And recently, the United States ended purchases of a Russian rocket engine long used for NASA and Pentagon launches to space, which generated billions in revenue for Moscow.
Is this really the first movie that has been made on the space station?
“The Challenge” is the first full-length movie that will use scenes filmed in orbit. The movie will include about 35 to 40 minutes of scenes made on the station, Channel One says.
Other kinds of productions have been made in space in the past, like “Apogee of Fear,” an eight-minute science fiction film shot by Richard Garriott, a private astronaut, in 2008. Mr. Garriott, a video game entrepreneur, paid $30 million for his seat on a Soyuz spacecraft, which he booked through Space Adventures, a space tourism broker. The company is booking future missions to the space station aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.
Several feature-length documentaries have relied heavily on video shot aboard the station. “Space Station 3D,” a short 2002 documentary about the space station’s construction, was the first IMAX production filmed in space.
Are there other plans to film in orbit?
Tom Cruise may have plans to film something on the space station, but it’s unclear exactly when. Deadline, a Hollywood news publication, reported in 2020 that Mr. Cruise would fly to space aboard one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules for an action-adventure film directed by Doug Liman. Jim Bridenstine, who served as NASA’s administrator under President Donald Trump, confirmed the plans on Twitter at the time and lauded them as a chance to galvanize the public around space exploration.
Russia’s space agency announced its intention to send an actress to the space station shortly after Mr. Cruise’s plans emerged.
Source: NYT > Top Stories