First film made in space: the Russians take off to film in orbit

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MOSCOW (AP) – A Russian actor and director were blasted into space on Tuesday as part of a mission to make the world’s first film in orbit, a project the Kremlin says will help restore fame spatial pattern of the country.

Actor Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko took off for the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran of three space missions. Their Soyuz MS-19 took off as scheduled at 1:55 p.m. (08:55 GMT) from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and arrived at the station after approximately 3:30 a.m.

Shkaplerov took manual controls to smoothly dock the spacecraft to the space outpost after a problem with an automatic docking system.

The trio said they were feeling good and the spaceship’s systems were functioning normally.

Peresild and Klimenko will be filming segments of a new movie called “Challenge”, in which a surgeon played by Peresild rushes to the space station to save a crew member who is suffering from heart disease. After 12 days on the space outpost, they are expected to return to Earth with another Russian cosmonaut.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the mission would help showcase Russia’s space prowess.

“We have been pioneers in space and have maintained a confident stance,” Peskov said. “Such missions which help to publicize our achievements and space exploration in general are excellent for the country.”

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the flight on Monday, Peresild, 37, admitted that it was difficult for him to adjust to the strict discipline and rigorous demands during training.

“It was psychologically, physically and morally difficult,” she said. “But I think once the goal is achieved it won’t all seem so difficult and we will remember it with a smile.”

Shipenko, 38, who has directed several commercially successful films, also described their accelerated four-month preparation for the flight as difficult.

“Of course, we couldn’t do a lot on the first try, and sometimes even on a third try, but that’s to be expected,” he said.

Shipenko, who will complete filming on Earth after filming the film’s space episodes, said Shkaplerov and two other Russian cosmonauts currently on board the station – Oleg Novitskiy and Piotr Dubrovnik – will all have roles in the new film.

Russian state-controlled Channel One television, which is involved in the making of the film, covered extensively the crew training and launch.

“I’m in shock. I still can’t imagine my mom being over there,” Peresild’s daughter Anna said in televised remarks minutes after the launch.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russian state space company Roscosmos, was a key force behind the project, describing it as a chance to restore the nation’s space glory and dismissing criticism from some Russian media.

Some commentators have argued that the film project will distract the Russian crew and might be inconvenient to film on the Russian segment of the International Space Station, which is considerably less spacious than the US segment. A new Russian laboratory module, the Nauka, was added in July, but it is not yet fully integrated into the station.

On the space station, the three newcomers join Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency; NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; the cosmonauts of Roscosmos Novitskiy and Dubrovnik; and Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Novitskiy, who will play the sick cosmonaut in the film, will take the captain’s seat in a Soyuz capsule to bring the film crew back to Earth on October 17.


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