Actor Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko were escorted back to Earth by cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky in a Soyuz capsule that landed on Kazakhstan’s steppe. They were filming scenes for The Challenge, a collaboration between Russian space agency Roscosmos, public broadcaster Channel One, and independent Russian film studio Yellow, Black, and White.
The plot of the film has been kept largely under wraps, but follows a Russian doctor who is sent to the International Space Station to save the life of a cosmonaut.
“The descent vehicle of the crewed spacecraft Soyuz MS-18 is standing upright and is secure. The crew are feeling good!” Russian space agency Roscosmos tweeted.
If the film is completed to schedule, it will beat the release of a project announced last year by Tom Cruise, NASA, and 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.”
SpaceX did, however, achieve another world-first last month, launching the first all-civilian crew into orbit on a three-day private flight. Russia is slated to send two Japanese tourists – including billionaire Yusaku Maezawa – to the ISS in December.