Pin It
International Space Station
International Space StationCourtesy of NASA/Roscosmos, via Wikimedia Commons

Space Race 2: Russia gets the go ahead to shoot the first film in orbit

A film crew helmed by Klim Shipenko will blast off on a 12-day trip to the International Space Station next month — the date for a US production with Elon Musk and Tom Cruise is still TBC

In news that will disappoint Elon Musk, Tom Cruise, and everyone else at NASA who’s been working hard to make the first feature film shot in outer space, a Russian film crew is set to lift off next month to shoot its own project on the International Space Station.

It was first announced that the crew behind “space drama” The Challenge (including the 36-year-old lead actor, Yulia Peresild) would be travelling to the International Space Station earlier this year, placing them ahead of their US counterparts in a new kind of space race.

Now, Variety reports that they’ve undergone a crash course in space travel at the Yuri Gagarin Center for Cosmonaut Training, previously said to include centrifuge tests and zero-gravity flights. A panel of medical and safety experts has also given their 12-day mission, scheduled to begin October 5, the green light.

Directed by Klim Shipenko — the filmmaker behind Russia’s highest-grossing film of all time, Son of a Rich, as well as the 2017 space film Salyut 7 The Challenge follows a Russian doctor (played by Peresild) who is sent to save the life of a cosmonaut. The project is a collaboration between the Russian space agency Roscosmos and public broadcaster Channel One, with veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov on board to pilot the spaceship.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on Thursday, Peresild said that it is “too late” to be afraid of travelling to space to play the lead role. “If you’re afraid of wolves, you shouldn’t go into the forest,” she adds. “There is just no time left for fear.”

Tom Cruise was also originally scheduled to board the ISS in October, to star in an untitled feature film directed by Doug Liman, with the backing of NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX programme. The blast off date, however, has yet to be confirmed. 

Konstantin Ernst, CEO of Channel One, has also played down the idea that the US and Russia are in hot competition to shoot the first narrative feature film in space, saying: “Cinema isn’t sports.”

“We certainly would have preferred arriving at the International Space Station at the same time with Tom Cruise,” Ernst tells Variety. “We would have enjoyed shooting the film together much better.” Although, he adds: “Since we have got a chance to travel there earlier, we will certainly use it.”

Even if it won’t lead the way in cosmic cinema productions, SpaceX did recently achieve a historic first, launching the world’s first all-civilian crew into orbit on a private flight funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman. Tom Cruise has even checked in with the crew during the three-day flight, presumably doing some research for his upcoming role.