Russian film crew return to Earth after shooting the first movie in space

After spending 12 days filming scenes on the International Space Station, a Russian actor and a director of cinema have returned to Earth.
According to live footage broadcast by the Russian space agency, Yulia Pesild and Klim Schiffenko landed on Kazakhstan's steppe as planned on Sunday.

Oleg Novitsky, a cosmonaut who had been aboard the space station for six months, took them back to Terra firma.

After returning from Sunday's International Space Station, Yulia Peresild was assisted into the Soyuz capsule. Photograph by ROSCOSMOS/Reuters

The crewed spacecraft Soyuz MS-18's descent vehicle is stable and standing straight. Crew are happy! Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, tweeted.

The film-makers had departed from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to shoot scenes for The Challenge.

If the project continues on its current track, the Russian team will beat the Hollywood project that was announced last year by Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise along with Elon Musks SpaceX and Nasa.

The movie's plot revolves around a surgeon sent to the ISS to rescue a cosmonaut.

Shkaplerov (49), and the Russian cosmonauts, who were aboard the ISS at the time, are believed to have played cameo roles in this film.

There were many bumps in the road.

Yulia Peresild (left), film director Klim Schiffenko, center, and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov talk aboard the ISS. Photograph by AP

Shkaplerov was forced to change to manual control as the film crew arrived at the ISS earlier in the month.

Russian flight controllers conducted a test of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft on Friday. The thruster fire unexpectedly and the ISS was destabilised for 30 minutes, a Nasa spokesperson said to the Russian news agency TASS.

Their landing was captured by a film crew and will be featured in the movie, Konstantin Ernst (head of the Kremlin friendly Channel One TV network, and co-producer for The Challenge), told AFP.

This mission will be the latest in a long line of firsts for Russia's space industry.

Soviets launched Sputnik the first satellite, and put into orbit Laika, a dog named Laika. Yuri Gagarin was the first man to launch the satellite, while Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman.

Modern Russia, however, has not been as innovative as the Soviet era. The country's space industry is struggling to secure funding from the state. However the Kremlin prioritizes military spending over innovation.

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft lands in a cloud in Kazakhstan. ROSCOSMOS/Reuters Photograph

The Soviet-designed technology is still used by the space agency. It has suffered a series of setbacks including corruption scandals as well as failed launches.

Russia is also losing ground in the global space race. It faces stiff competition from China and the US, while Beijing shows increasing ambitions in this industry.

Roscosmos in Russia was also hit hard by SpaceX's success last year, which ended Moscow's monopoly on journeys to the orbital station.

Russia's space program announced this year that it would be reviving its tourism plan in order to transport fee-paying adventurers into the ISS. This is to improve its image and diversify its revenues.

Russia will send two Japanese tourists, including Yusaku Maezawa, to the ISS in December after a decade-long pause. This caps a remarkable year for amateur space travel.