Actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko are scheduled to blast off Tuesday to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft with veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who has participated in three space missions.
After spending 12 days in space, Peresild and Shipenko will return to Earth with another Russian cosmonaut.
The crew plans to shoot clips from a new movie called “The Challenge,” which tells the story of a surgeon who is called to the space station with the aim of saving a crew member suffering from a heart condition.
Speaking at a press conference at Russia’s launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Peresild acknowledged that training for the mission had been arduous, but she also described it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The 37-year-old added, “It’s a miracle, an incredible opportunity… We worked really hard and we’re really tired, even though we’re keeping our spirits up and smiling.”
Shipenko, 38, has produced several commercially successful films.
One of Shipenko’s previous films, “Salot-7”, told the true story of a difficult 1985 space mission by two Soviet cosmonauts who were sent to revive an abandoned space station.
The director described the four-month course as very intense, adding that although it did not turn him and Peresild into professional astronauts, it made them well-prepared for the mission.
Shipenko also mentioned that he is happy to be the first filmmaker in space, and is keen to experiment with lighting, camera settings and other technical aspects.
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian Aerospace Organization “Roscosmos”, was the main driving force behind the project.
He described making the world’s first feature film in space as an opportunity to “elevate the nation’s standing in space.”
“Films have long become a powerful propaganda tool,” he said last June, arguing that the new film would help counter what he called Western efforts to “humiliate” Russia’s space programme.