Veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, actor Yulia Peresild and film producer Klim Shipenko traveled to the International Space Station on Tuesday. Peresild and Shipenko will be filming segments for the movie “Challenge” — the first feature film shot in space.
The three space travelers blasted off on board a Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:55 a.m. ET on Tuesday. The speedy Soyuz delivered them to the space station around 8:22 a.m., despite some communications issues that led to Shkaplerov taking manual control of the spacecraft to complete docking with the space station.
The current crew on the space station, including 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, will welcome the trio aboard when the hatch opens around 10:30 a.m.
It’s a short stay for first-time space station visitors Peresild and Shipenko, who will spend 12 days on the space station filming before returning to Earth on October 16. They will be joined on their return trip by Novitskiy.
“There is enough room in space for everything,” said Russian President Dmitry Peskov. “It is important to observe proportions. We follow such flights together with all Russians, we are also worried about the astronauts and wish them a successful continuation of the flight. After all, space is where we became pioneers, where we, in spite of everything, maintain a confident position.”
Shkaplerov will stay on the space station and return to Earth in March with Vande Hei and Dubrov on the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft. When Vande Hei lands after his 355 consecutive days on the space station, he will have completed the longest single spaceflight by an astronaut in US history, according to NASA.
A few films have been shot on board the space station, including a 2002 IMAX documentary that Tom Cruise narrated. “Apogee of Fear,” a 2012 science fiction film clocking in at about eight minutes, was also filmed in space by entrepreneur and space tourist Richard Garriott, the son of an astronaut.
But Russia is slated to become the first nation to shoot a feature film in space.
Peresild and Shipenko, who are well-known in Russia, were selected after the country’s space agency, Roscosmos, opened a competition for applicants in November. Peresild has appeared in a number of Russian films and TV series, while Shipenko’s 2020 movie “Serf” was one of Russia’s highest-grossing films.
The two civilians underwent rigorous training ahead of their space jaunt. Along with understudies, the actor and the director prepared by doing centrifuge and vibration stand tests, training flights in zero gravity, and parachute training, all of which were covered by Channel One.
The crew has practiced photography and filming and using equipment that they’ll interact with on the space station.
Other cosmonauts on board, including Novitskiy, will assist and act as part of the film crew since their resources are more limited in the space environment. The schedules of the astronauts on the space station are already well choreographed so they can work on experiments and see to necessary maintenance tasks and other priorities.
Jackie Wattles, Katharina Krebs, Olga Pavlova and Sara Spary contributed to this report.