Seeing stars: Russian actress and director blast into space for movie project

A Russian actress and director have rocketed into space on a mission to make the world’s first movie in orbit, a project the Kremlin said will help burnish the nation’s space glory.

ctor Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko blasted off for the International Space Station (ISS) in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft together with cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran of three space missions.

Their Soyuz MS-19 lifted off as scheduled from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and arrived at the station after about three and a half hours.

Mr Shkaplerov took manual control to smoothly dock the spacecraft at the space outpost after a glitch in an automatic docking system.

The trio reported spacecraft systems were functioning normally.

The pair will film segments of a movie titled Challenge, in which a surgeon, played by Peresild, rushes to the space station to save a crew member who needs an urgent operation in orbit.

After 12 days on the space outpost, Peresild and Shipenko are set to return to Earth with another cosmonaut.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the mission will help showcase Russia’s space prowess. “We have been pioneers in space and maintained a confident position,” he said. “Such missions that help advertise our achievements and space exploration in general are great for the country.”

Speaking at a before the flight on Monday, Peresild (37) said the training had been “psychologically, physically and morally hard”, adding: “But I think that once we achieve the goal, all that will seem not so difficult and we will remember it with a smile.”

Shipenko (38) who has made several movies, said: “Of course, we couldn’t make many things at the first try, and sometimes even at a third attempt, but it’s normal.”

He said Mr Shkaplerov and two other Russian cosmonauts on board the station will play parts in the movie.

Some critics have said the filming would distract the Russian crew and could be awkward to film on the Russian segment of the ISS, which is considerably less spacious than the US section.

On the ISS, the newcomers joined station commander Thomas Pesquet, of the European Space Agency, and personnel from Nasa and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. After the hatches between the Soyuz and the station were opened, the trio floated in, smiling and exchanging hugs with the station crew.

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” Peresild said during a brief televised hook-up with Mission Control in Moscow.

Shipenko echoed that feeling: “We have been waiting for that for such a long time, and indeed now we feel like in a dream.”

Mr Novitskiy, who will star as the ailing cosmonaut in the project, will captain the Soyuz capsule back to Earth on October 17.

Before Russia made its move, Nasa had spoken to actor Tom Cruise about making a movie in orbit.

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