Bangkok Post

Crew to film 1st movie in space


MOSCOW: Russia was set to launch an actress and film director into space in a historic bid to best the United States to film the first movie in orbit yesterday.

If successful, the Russian crew will beat a Hollywood project that was announced last year by Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise together with Nasa and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Actress Yulia Peresild, 37, and film director Klim Shipenko, 38, were expected to take off from the Russialeas­ed Baikonur Cosmodrome in exSoviet Kazakhstan at 08.55 GMT.

Led by veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, they would travel in a Soyuz MS-19 spaceship for a 12-day mission at the Internatio­nal Space Station (ISS) to film scenes for The Challenge.

The movie’s plot, which has been mostly kept under wraps along with its budget, was revealed by Russia’s space agency Roscosmos to centre around a female surgeon who is dispatched to the ISS to save a cosmonaut.

Col Shkaplerov and two other Russian cosmonauts aboard the ISS are said to have cameo roles in the film.

“For me, space is alluring, welcoming and has no boundaries,” Peresild — who was selected out of 3,000 candidates for the role — said in remarks broadcast by Roscosmos yesterday.

Several hours ahead of take off, the trio arrived at the launchpad clad in heavy spacesuits, waving to the crowds as they boarded their spacecraft.

True to a pre-flight tradition religiousl­y observed by cosmonauts, the crew said that on Sunday they watched the classic Soviet film The White Sun of the Desert.

Shipenko and Peresild are expected to return to Earth on Oct 17 in a capsule with cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who has been on the ISS for the past six months.

“Not only do we need to make a film, we need to come back to Earth alive,”

Col Shkaplerov said.

If successful, the mission will add to a long list of firsts for Russia’s space industry.

The Soviets launched the first satellite Sputnik, and sent the first animal, a dog named Laika, the first man, Yuri Gagarin, and the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, into orbit.

But compared to the Soviet era, modern Russia has struggled to innovate and its space industry is struggling to secure state funding with the Kremlin prioritisi­ng military spending.

Its space agency is still reliant on Soviet-designed technology and has faced a number of setbacks, including corruption scandals and botched launches.

Roscosmos was also dealt a blow after SpaceX last year successful­ly delivered astronauts to the ISS, costing Russia its monopoly for journeys to the orbital station.

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