Russian actress, Yulia Peresild, and director, Klim Shipenko, travelled to the International Space Station on Tuesday in a historic bid to beat the United States as the first country to film a movie in orbit.
The Russian crew is set to beat a Hollywood project that was announced last year by movie star, Tom Cruise, in conjunction with NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Actress, Peresild, 37, and film director, Shipenko, 38, took off from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan at the expected time of 08:55 GMT, with docking scheduled for 12:12 GMT.
“Launch as planned,” the head of the Roscosmos space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, said on Twitter.
The film crew led by veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, will travel in a Soyuz MS-19 spaceship for a 12-day mission at the ISS to film scenes for “The Challenge”.
In a live broadcast on Russian TV, the Soyuz spacecraft was shown ascending into a cloudless sky. Russia’s state-controlled Channel One television, which is involved in making the movie, has extensively covered the crew training and the launch.
“The crew is feeling well,” Shkaplerov was heard saying in the broadcast several minutes after they took-off.
The movie’s plot, which has been mostly kept as a secret alongside with its budget, was revealed by Roscosmos to centre around a female surgeon who is dispatched to the ISS to save a cosmonaut.
Shipenko, who will complete the shooting on Earth after filming the movie’s space episodes, said Shkaplerov and two other Russian cosmonauts now on board the station — Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov — will all have cameo roles in the new movie.
The ISS crew, which also includes a French, a Japanese and three NASA astronauts, will welcome the newcomers when the hatch opens at around 1410 GMT.
Shipenko and Peresild are expected to return to Earth on October 17 in a capsule with cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who has been on the ISS for the past six months.
If the mission turns out a success, will add to a long list of firsts for Russia’s space industry.