The space race is real and while American private companies are trying to take the front seat to pioneer a new era of space travel, other advanced countries of the world are trying to take a bite of this endeavor as well.
First, it was China trying to build its own space station, and now, Russia which is already ahead by sending a crew to the International Space Station to shoot a feature film right ahead of the American crew.
The film will star Yulia Peresild and will be directed by Klim Shipenko. They were aboard the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft which took off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and got to the ISS in three hours after docking.
However, American movie superstar Tom Cruise in partnership with NASA has all been planning to also make a movie on the ISS as well.
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For the mission, Shipenko reportedly shared about 15kg (33lbs) according to his wife who is also an actress. As for Peresild, her daughter, 12-year-old Ana was present at the launch site where she witness her mother heading to space.
The mission was led by cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and everything according to reports coming from Moscow went just as planned.
“The crew is feeling well,” said the commanded not long after take-off. About three hours later, the Soyuz docked with the ISS.
It was even reported to be a little bit late considering the fact that the Soyuz automatic Kurs docking system failed and the commander had to switch to manual control.
Shkaplerov would normally have had the help of a flight engineer but his two colleagues – an actress and a movie director wouldn’t be of much help, despite their fast-track flight training.
The successful docking with the ISS led to the opening of the hatch connecting Soyuz to the ISS which allowed the crew member to join the other seven crew members on the Russian section of the ISS.
“The hatch is open! Everything as planned” tweeted Roscosmos space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.
Director Shipenko and actress Peresild will stay on the ISS for about 12 days while Shkaplerov will continue to stay on the ISS for a little longer.
The movie scene to be shot on the ISS has to do with Peresild playing a cardiac surgeon who was sent into orbit to save a cosmonaut.
There are already two Russian cosmonauts on board – Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov both of who will take part in the film.
The filming will continue to take part in the Russian section of the ISS. Also, the feature film is said to be the brainchild of Roscosmos chief who apparently fired the space agency’s head of crewed missions in a row over the film project.
Sergei Krikalev, a veteran of space missions, got his job back days later amid widespread anger at his sacking.
The mission has faced some backlash from other members of the space agency and one of them is cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko who told BBC Russian that he was one of many who were opposed to the mission.
“The ISS is no place for performers, all sorts of clowns, or tourists. It’s a huge space lab and you shouldn’t get in the way of professional work.”
However, Kornienko’s concerns won’t have any effect on the feature film anyway considering the millions being poured in by Russia’s Channel One TV which is the sponsor.
Russia’s space agency has had a troubled few years, with corruption overshadowing the construction of a cosmodrome in the Far East.
Its long-delayed Nauka laboratory finally arrived at the space station during the summer, 14 years after it was due to for launch and this is why Russia warned it could pull out of the ISS in little less than four years over its aging hardware onboard the space station.