Crew members, cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko, attend a news conference ahead of the expedition to the International Space Station (Reuters)
MOSCOW: The first satellite in space, the first dog, the first man, the first woman and now - if all goes as planned - the first movie. Russia took a step closer on Thursday to claiming another record in space when a commission of medical and safety experts approved a plan for an actor and a director to blast off early next month to film the first full-length, fictional movie in space. The movie, "The Challenge," tells of a female doctor launched on short notice to the International Space Station to save the life of a cosmonaut. If filmed on schedule next month, it would beat Hollywood to low-Earth orbit. Nasa announced last year plans by Tom Cruise to film on the ISS. Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, then announced its movie ambition.
At a news conference in Moscow, the Russian actor, director and their doubles - both roles have backups, lest a last-minute health problem derail the project - spoke enthusiastically about a new frontier in show business. They said they hoped to portray weightlessness as never before in fiction and, through the skills of a professional actor, the emotions of floating freely and seeing Earth from the heavens. "For the first two seconds it's scary," Yulia Peresild, who is on track to become the first actor in space, said of her training on an airplane flight that briefly created a microgravity environment. "After that, it's beautiful." She conceded that she will face limitations: She'll do her own makeup, for example, and work without lighting or sound crews.
Peresild and Klim Shipenko, director on the primary crew, plan to fly up and back in a Soyuz capsule and spend 10 days filming in the Russian segment of the space station. It is not clear when Nasa plans to start its space film project, but Russia officials were concerned enough to shift a schedule of missions to accommodate the pair's hasty launch. Blastoff is planned for October 5. Anton Shkaplerov, a cosmonaut, will pilot the three-seat Soyuz spaceship. Shipenko said his aim is to bring to life the experience of space through the eyes of an ordinary person, the doctor character played by Peresild. "We want every person to be a little like our hero." Three cosmonauts will play bit parts.