Sorry Elon Musk and Tom Cruise, Russia won this space race.
While countless movies take place in space, no movie has ever gone to space to film. Multiple factors go into making space travel possible, and adding an entire cast and crew who has never been to space would take some extra time and money. But what we thought was impossible has now become possible.
Yesterday morning, actor Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko, and veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov blasted off to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft intending to film segments for Shipenko’s newest feature, The Challenge. Russia’s Channel One broadcasted the launch today, offering livestreams in multiple languages for the world to watch film history being made.
The Challenge is the first feature film to be shot in space. The film collaborated with Russian space agency Roscosmos, Channel One, and Yellow, Black, and White, a public broadcaster, to make the filming possible. NASA announced last year that Tom Cruise’s and Elon Musk’s upcoming $200 million action-adventure with NASA and SpaceX was trying to be the first film crew to make it to space, but Shipenko beat them to the punch.
Channel One caught most of Shipenko’s and Peresild’s rigorous training before she put on the spacesuit. Parts of her training include centrifuge and vibration stand tests, training flights, and parachute training.
At a video press conference on Monday, before Tuesday’s launch, Shipenko spoke on the speed at which the cast and crew prepared for this journey, saying, “We underwent an accelerated course of many important elements that the cosmonauts studied over many years. We tried to master them in four months. We had a lot of theory, practice, endurance, sports—everything imaginable. It seems to me, this is a rather feasible task—naturally not to become a cosmonaut at the level of Anton and other professionals, but to prepare as a participant of a space flight.”
While Shipenko’s and Pereslid’s training was rather quick, many people are preparing for space travel who are being trained in the same amount of time or less.
“The entire time we worked very hard. Despite our cheerful disposition and smiles, we got very tired. Had I been told this once again, of course, I would have come to her understanding the matter, but I still would come,” Pereslid said.
Shipenko’s The Challenge will follow a Russian doctor who is sent to the International Space Station to save the life of a cosmonaut. The film crew will spend 12 days on the space station along with European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough, and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.
When getting ready for the launch, Peresild said, “I am not afraid... fear is normal.”
Aware of the limitations that may arise while filming, Peresild is confident that she can play multiple roles to make the few sequences in space great.
The race back to space has started. With Jeff Bezos, a Russian director and actor, and an American director, actor, and entrepreneur to also head to space soon, who knows what the next project including space travel will be?
Would you film in space? Let us know in the comments.