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Yulia Peresild arrives on the International Space Station
Yulia Peresild arrives on the International Space StationCourtesy of NASA

Russia blasts off to shoot the first feature film in space, The Challenge

A three-person crew has boarded the International Space Station for the 12-day shoot

Back in May, it was announced that the Russian actor Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko had been selected to fly to the International Space Station, as part of Russia’s bid to shoot the first feature film in space. Today (October 5), they completed the first part of their mission, arriving on the ISS with veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov.

Making their first flights into space following a “crash course” in space travel at the Yuri Gagarin Center for Cosmonaut Training, the small film crew is scheduled to spend 12 days aboard the space station.

In that time, they will commence work on a “space drama” titled The Challenge, which follows a Russian doctor (played by Peresild) sent to save the life of a cosmonaut, whose condition prevents him from returning to Earth. Backed by state broadcaster Channel One, the project is a collaboration with the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

“I still feel that it’s all just a dream and I’m asleep,” says Peresild in a NASA stream that documented the crew docking and passing through the ISS hatch. “It is almost impossible that this actually all came to reality.”

Peresild and Shipenko’s arrival on the Soyuz spacecraft brings the total number of crew members on the ISS up to 10. None of those people, however, are Tom Cruise, who was previously hoping to make the first movie in space, with assistance from NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Cruise was also originally scheduled to board the ISS in October, but the actual US launch date is yet to be determined. Konstantin Ernst, CEO of Channel One, has played down the rivalry between the US and Russia, however, saying: “Cinema isn’t sports.”

While SpaceX may have missed out on playing a part in the first feature film shot in space, it did achieve another world-first last month, launching the first all-civilian crew into orbit on a three-day private flight. Tom Cruise reportedly checked in on a call with the crew, which — for now — seems like it’s as close as he’s going to get.

According to NASA, Peresild and Shipenko will return to Earth with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy on October 16, landing in Kazakhstan. Shkaplerov is set to stay on board the International Space Station until March.