A historic first, an actor and a film director ready to make a film into orbit in Russian space – praised by the country’s space chief as an opportunity to enhance the prestige of Russia’s space program. Actor Yulia Perisild and director Klim Shipenko will set out on Tuesday for the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft with astronaut Anton Skplerov, a veteran of three space missions. After 12 days in space outpost, Peresild and Shipenko return to Earth with another Russian cosmonaut.

The crew plans to shoot a new movie called Challenge about a surgeon who is called to come to the space station to rescue a staff member suffering from heart disease.

Speaking at a news conference at the Russian Launch Facility in Bikonur, Kazakhstan, she acknowledged that training for the Perceived Mission was difficult, but described it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It was a miracle, a wonderful opportunity,” she says.

Russian film crew in space Actress Yulia Peresild, left, director Klim Shipenko ‘and cosmonaut Anton Skkaplerov, the main crew members of the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft pose at the Russian launch pad in Kazakhstan. (Roscosmos Space Agency via AP)

“We worked very hard and we were so tired, even though we were in good spirits and smiling,” the 37-year-old actor said. “It’s hard mentally, physically and morally. But, once we reach the goal, it’s not all that difficult and we remember it with a smile.

Peresild said it was difficult for him to receive the strict discipline and tough demands he needed during training.

“Here in Bikonur, we befriended everyone and all the people warmed up,” she says. “But in the beginning it was very difficult when you were not given much choice: go, run, go fast, hold on, keep going. It was not so easy for us and it was very unexpected, but we overcame it.”

She said learning about spacecraft design and maintenance was the most challenging part of flight preparation.

“Being honest is not that easy for me,” she says. “For the first two weeks, I’m learning until 4am every morning. There are so many acronyms, and you can not understand anything else if you do not learn them all.”

Yulia Perseild Actress Yulia Perseild attends a news conference at the Russian Launch Facility in Kazakhstan. (Roscosmos Space Agency via AP)

Part of Perseild’s favorite training is a weightless simulator, in which a plane dives steeply to allow those within 20 seconds to reach zero gravity. She added that she realized that zero gravity in orbit was completely different and was preparing for her first morning in orbit.

“Some mornings are even harder on earth,” she says. “We thought a lot about it, and the cosmonauts shared some life hawks.”

Shipenko, 38, Kholop (Serf), made several commercially successful films that set a Russian box office record in 2019. He also described the training as rigorous.

“Actually, we couldn’t do much on the first try, sometimes even on the third try, but it was normal,” he said.

One of Shipenko’s previous films, Salute-7, tells the true story of the challenging 1985 mission of two Soviet astronauts sent to revive an abandoned space station.

He described the four-month training course as very intensive, which did not turn him and Perseild into professional astronauts, but prepared them well for the mission.

Shipenko said he was thrilled to be the first filmmaker in space and was interested in experimenting with lighting, camera settings and other technical aspects. Once at the space station, Shipenko said he would always wear the t-shirt he wore when the new movie started shooting.

Shkaplerov insisted that his entertainment-world crew be fully ready for flight after their rapid training.

“No one has ever had that experience before: to prepare people for a spacecraft who have nothing to do with the space program,” he said, adding that it would be useful in the future if an outside expert was urgently needed to be sent into orbit. .

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos, is the key driver behind the project. Rogogin described the creation of the world’s first feature film in space as an opportunity to enhance the country’s space reputation.

“Movies have long been a powerful tool for propaganda,” he said in June, arguing that the new film would help counter what he described as Western attempts to “insult” the Russian space program.

Some Russian media have been skeptical about the project, and there are also some skeptical about the Russian space program.

Sergei Krikalev, a highly acclaimed veteran of Soviet and Russian space missions, was fired in June as director of the Roscosmos crew missions for making six spacecraft, citing his sharp criticism of some Russian media filmmaking project.

International Space Station In this photo, the International Space Station is visible from the naval module. (Oleg Novitsky / Roscosmos Space Agency Press Service Photo by AP)

Krikalev was re-appointed director a few days later, apparently due to the intervention of his top supporters. He refrained from making public comments about the project.

The Russian segment of the International Space Station is much smaller than the US segment, which leaves less space for film production. The new lab module was expanded in July after the ship’s long-awaited launch, which has not yet been fully integrated into the station.

After they arrive at the space center on Tuesday, the three newcomers will join Thomas Pesquet‌ of the European Space Agency; NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hay, Shane Kimbro and Megan McArthur; Aki Hoshid of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; And Roscosmos Cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov.

Filmmaking plans are sketchy, but Shipenko Shakaplerov, Novitsky and Dubrov all say they will play parts in the new film. Novitsky, who will play the sick cosmonaut in the film, will take the captain’s seat on the Soyuz capsule on October 17 to bring the crew back to Earth.

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