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The space station is about to welcome its first film crew

Up until now, space movies have been shot on terra firma — the cost, planning, and practicalities of sticking a film crew on a rocket are deemed unworkable.

But with the price of space missions starting to fall thanks to the efforts of companies like SpaceX, and professional moviemaking equipment becoming ever more portable, a number of filmmakers have started to show interest in shooting a movie — or at least some of it — in microgravity conditions hundreds of miles above Earth.

While Hollywood megastar Tom Cruise may have been hoping to become the first actor to shoot a movie in space, Russian actor Yulia Peresild will beat him to the accolade as she’s heading to the International Space Station (ISS) this week to film scenes for a movie called Vyzov (Challenge).

The movie is a collaboration between Russian space agency Roscosmos and Russian media companies, and will be directed by Klim Shipenko, who is also traveling to the ISS.

The three Russian crew members heading to the space station on October 5.
Soyuz MS-19 crew members: Actor Yulia Peresild, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, and film director Klim Shipenko. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Peresild and Shipenko will head to the orbiting outpost with veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov on Tuesday, October 5, launching aboard a Soyuz MS spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome spaceport in Kazakhstan. Digital Trends has details on how you can watch a livestream of the launch.

According to IMDb, Challenge “follows a female surgeon who has to perform an operation on a cosmonaut too ill to return to Earth immediately.” Although the decision to shoot the movie in space reflects the producers’ desire for authenticity, we can safely assume the operation will not be real.

Peresild and Shipenko will spend 11 days filming scenes for the movie before returning to Earth with current space station crew member Oleg Novitskiy on October 16. Shkaplerov will return at a later date.

While we’re certainly not expecting to see a sudden rush of filmmakers heading to space to shoot their sci-fi movies, it’s still remarkable that it’s happening at all, and indicates how space travel is opening up to a broader range of people beyond highly trained astronauts.

Just last month, for example, SpaceX sent the world’s first all-civilian crew on a three-day orbital mission that took the participants even further from Earth than the ISS, while SpaceX, NASA, and Axiom Space are also collaborating to send the first private crew to the space station early next year.

Proving that you don’t need to leave Earth to make a great space-based movie, Digital Trends recently came up with its favorite space movies of all time.

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Trevor Mogg
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