Entertainment Studios in Space? They’re Closer Than You Think, First One May Open in 2024

Movies actually shot in space… an idea so great and so simple one has to wonder how come no one thought of it before. I mean, just imagine the revenue a space-based movie set would generate. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it, as someone else already did: Space Entertainment Enterprise (SEE).
Axiom space station 9 photos
Photo: Axiom
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For a long time, space exploration has been an activity only governments and government-backed individuals could get involved with. Then, a plethora of private companies popped up and started performing launches not only for governments, but for civilian companies too.

The natural evolution of that was the arrival of the first civilians in space. Three companies have sent untrained (by NASA standards) non-astronauts up there: Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and of course, SpaceX. In the case of Elon Musk’s company, we’re not talking just about a short trip to the edge of space, but the world’s first all-civilian mission to actually orbit the planet and spend two full Earth days up there.

Across continents, Russians now seem ages away from what the Americans are doing. Yet, there’s one thing the Russians did in space and Americans didn’t (yet): actually shoot some movie scenes while using real actors who probably never pursued an astronaut career, and probably never dreamed of actually going to space.

Actress Yulia Peresild and the film director Klim Shipenko are the ones who set foot on the International Space Station (ISS) back in 2021, spending 12 days in orbit around the planet shooting scenes for a flick we honestly know nothing about.

Axiom space station
Photo: Axiom
Yet, in doing this, they’ve opened up new business opportunities for space station operators (and there’s going to be a lot of them in the near future): movie sets and studious based in space.

Not long ago, we learned of Tom Cruise trying to become not only the first American actor to shoot a movie (at least some of the scenes) in space, but also the first civilian to go for a spacewalk.

In October last year, Cruise’s dream was confirmed by Universal Chairman Donna Langley. The movie is yet untitled, synopsis unknown, and launch date (in theaters) a mystery. We do know, however, the flick is backed by NASA, SpaceX, and something called Space Entertainment Enterprise (SEE).

This SEE crew describes itself as a “ground-breaking new location-based entertainment and sports company that will bring humanity closer to its dream of being a multiplanetary civilization.” How are they going to do that? Why, by setting up an orbital movie set right there on the ISS, of course.

Axiom space station
Photo: Axiom
They don’t call it a set, true, but the “world’s first entertainment arena and content studios in space,” and it will be part of the ISS extension a company called Axiom Space is on the verge of creating.

Axiom is already conducting private civilian flights to the ISS, using SpaceX spaceships, but bigger plans are for it to build “the world’s first commercial space station.” Technically, it will not be a brand new station built in the void, but its modules, being built as we speak, will be attached to the existing ISS assembly.

The first of the modules should depart in late 2025 - at least that’s the word at the time of writing - and they’ll all continue to be attached to the ISS at least until 2028, when a separation is planned.

One of these modules will be the SEE-1, a “micro-gravity film, TV, sport, and entertainment production and broadcast” unit. Back when it was announced, in January 2022, it was scheduled for launch sometime next year, but it’s unclear at this time if that’s still in the cards.

Axiom space station
Photo: Axiom
It will eventually get there, though, and when it does, it will probably revolutionize entertainment as we know it, but it will also (probably) help the space industry by bringing in not only actors and musicians, but the general public as well. I mean, I can already imagine cues of rappers just waiting to climb onboard a Crew Dragon and head out to space to shoot the ultimate zero-g clip to be watched by millions…

SEE will make the place available to all those interested in producing and recording content, for prices that have not been disclosed. It also has some ideas about live content being streamed down from space, but those have not been detailed either.

At the time of the Axiom station's separation from the ISS, SEE-1 should be about one-fifth of its volume, and probably the largest income generator of the entire station. The inflatable module is set to measure six meters (20 feet) in diameter and will have an unobstructed interior.

True, the size of the thing may not allow for grandiose scenes to be filmed, but it will be more than enough for just a touch of no gravity and the knowledge you’re in space to spice things up a bit. For pretty much everyone.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows the planned Axiom space station.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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