In 2020, word got out that Tom Cruise, director Doug Liman and an unknown actress, with backing from NASA and SpaceX, would head out to the International Space Station (ISS) to shoot a movie there – or, at the very least, scenes for a movie. Clearly, we’re in an age where no green screen will do anymore. At the end of the year, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced that it too was working on a similar project.
Roscosmos and Channel One had partnered up to put together a team for a space-set movie, and they wanted an actress as lead. She was identified in May this year as Yulia Peresild, and Klim Shipenko, the country’s highest-grossing director, came on board to helm it. A tentative start date for the mission (it’s ok to still call it that) was set for October 5, 2021, and the name for the project was announced as The Challenge.
Roscosmos confirmed the launch date in a press conference last week, Variety reports. On October 5, on board a Soyuz spaceship, piloted by experienced space pilot Anton Shkaplerov, the team heads to the ISS to film for 12 full days. Peresild plays a doctor from Earth, sent to save a dying astronaut’s life, and the project is meant to highlight space progress and educate audiences on how space exploration is becoming more accessible to outsiders. Channel One will be broadcasting the project, which, at this point, looks more like a mockuseries than a proper film.
But it’s scripted programming shot in actual space, on board the ISS, and it means Russia has won the space race against the U.S. Speaking to the media outlet, Konstantin Ernst, CEO of Channel One, refuses to acknowledge the so-called space race, saying he would have loved it if his project shot on the ISS at the same time as Tom Cruise’s yet-to-be-titled film. “We would have enjoyed shooting the film together much better,” Ernst says.
Peresild and Shipenko have already passed medical reviews and received crash-course training in space exploration. At the same press conference, Peresild joked that menus in space tend to be diversified than restaurant menus, and said she’d learned how to use a spoon in zero-gravity. She also received parachute and flights in zero-gravity training.
Meanwhile, Tom Cruise...
VIDEO: Russian actress Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko, and their backup crew train in zero gravity ahead of their space launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 5, in a race against a parallel US project pic.twitter.com/5PafTN003w— AFP News Agency (@AFP) September 17, 2021