Shooting stars: Russians beating US in race for first film shot in space

It is legendary that the Soviet space program has sent out firsts to orbit: first satellite, first dog and first man.
Another film is now in the making after Russia sent an actor to the International Space Station (ISS), along with a director, to create the first space movie and put the Americans on notice.

Yulia Peresild (37 years old) and Klim Shipenko (38 years old) are likely to arrive at the ISS ahead of a Hollywood project that was announced last year by Tom Cruise and Nasa.

Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, tweeted "Welcome to the ISS!" before continuing to tweet images of Peresild, and other astronauts entering the station on a 12-day mission to film scenes in The Challenge.

Yulia Peresild, actress, checking herself before taking off. Photograph by Roscosmos/Reuters

Roscosmos said that the film's plot revolved around a female surgeon sent to the ISS to rescue a cosmonaut.

Anton Shkaplerov is a space veteran who travelled alongside the actor and director. He is believed to have a cameo part, along with two Russian cosmonauts, aboard the ISS.

According to the head of the US space agency, Cruise revealed last year that they were in discussions with Nasa regarding a film about outer space.

Jim Bridenstine, the former administrator of Nasa, stated that we need to use popular media to incite a new generation engineers and scientists to make Nasa's ambitious plans a reality.

This tweet came after a report that Cruise was collaborating with Musk, SpaceX's founder, to create what would be SpaceX's first feature film.

Cruise was able to see what it's like to orbit Earth in a SpaceX capsule last month when he participated in a call with four SpaceX space tourists orbiting over 360 miles in their first privately chartered flight.

Yulia Peresild is an actor. Also, Anton Shkaplerov, cosmonaut and Klim Shipenko are film directors. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

However, now that a Soyuz MS-19 spaceship has arrived carrying Peresild, Shipenko, it is likely that the Russian plans will outweigh those of Cruise, Nasa and other companies.

The ISS crew also includes a French citizen and a Japanese citizen, as well as three Nasa astronauts.

Peresild, who was chosen from 3,000 applicants to the position at a preflight press conference, stated that while it was hard psychologically, physically, and emotionally, he believes that once we reach our goal, all the difficulties won't seem so difficult.

Peresild and Shipenko, who previously played the role of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a Soviet sniper, will return to Earth on 17 Oct. They will board the return capsule together with Oleg Novitsky (cosmonaut who has been on the ISS the past six month).

I am in shock. In remarks televised in Russia, Anna, Anna's daughter, stated that she still cannot believe her mom is there.

Spaceship Soyuz MS-19 blasts off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan Photograph by Roscosmos/AFP/Getty Images

Shipenko, who has produced several commercially successful films, will finish shooting on Earth after filming the episodes in space. He also described the four-month-long preparations for the flight as difficult.

We didn't succeed on every occasion, sometimes even at the third attempt. But that is normal, he explained.

Shkaplerov took manual control of the spacecraft carrying them to dock at the space outpost after a glitch in an automatic system at the end of their three-and-a-half-hour journey from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

The Kremlin has praised the initiative after Russia fell behind in the global satellite race and was faced with tough competition from more innovative, well-resourced ventures in US or China.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson said that space is where we were pioneers.

SpaceX successfully completed last month's first all-civil mission to space. It sent four astronauts into a three day orbit around Earth.

It was the same trip that Richard Branson made in July to become weightless for a few minutes, followed by Jeff Bezos who, days later, completed a similar mission.

The actor William Shatner (now 90) will be flying to space with Bezoss Blue Origin this month. He is best known for his portrayal as Captain Kirk in Star Trek.