Moscow: A Russian actress and director returned to Earth on Sunday after spending 12 days on the International Space Station (ISS) to shoot scenes for the first film in orbit.
Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko landed on the steppe of Kazakhstan as planned at 4:36 a.m. GMT, according to images broadcast live by the Russian space agency.
– International Space Station (@Space_Station) October 17, 2021
They were brought back to dry land by cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who had been on the space station for six months.
“The Soyuz MS-18 crewed spacecraft descent vehicle is upright and secure. The crew is feeling good! Russian space agency Roscosmos tweeted.
The filmmakers took off from the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in former Soviet Kazakhstan earlier this month, traveling to the ISS with veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov to film scenes from “The Challenge.”
If the project stays on track, the Russian crew will beat a Hollywood project announced last year by “Mission Impossible” star Tom Cruise with NASA and SpaceX Elon Musk.
The plot of the film, which has been mostly kept under wraps with its budget, centers on a surgeon who is sent to the ISS to save a cosmonaut.
Shkaplerov, 49, along with the two Russian cosmonauts who were already on the ISS are said to have cameo roles in the film.
The mission was not without minor hitches.
As the film crew docked with the ISS earlier this month, Shkaplerov had to switch to manual control.
And when Russian flight controllers conducted a test on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft on Friday, the ship’s thruster went off unexpectedly and destabilized the ISS for 30 minutes, a spokesperson for the ISS said. NASA to the Russian news agency TASS.
But the spokesperson confirmed that their departure would go as planned.
21st century space race
Their landing, which was documented by a film crew, will also feature in the film, Konstantin Ernst, director of Channel One, friend of the Kremlin and co-producer of “The Challenge”, told AFP.
The mission will add to a long list of firsts for the Russian space industry.
The Soviets launched the first Sputnik satellite and sent the first animal, a dog named Laika, the first man, Yuri Gagarin, and the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, into orbit.
But compared to the Soviet era, modern Russia has struggled to innovate, and its space industry is struggling for public funding, with the Kremlin prioritizing military spending.
Its space agency still relies on Soviet-designed technology and has faced a number of setbacks, including corruption scandals and botched launches.
Russia is also lagging behind in the global space race, facing stiff competition from the United States and China, with Beijing showing growing ambitions in the industry.
Russia’s Roscosmos has also received a heavy blow after SpaceX successfully delivered astronauts to the ISS last year, ending Moscow’s monopoly on travel to the orbital station.
With the aim of improving its image and diversifying its income, the Russian space program revealed this year that it will relaunch its tourism plan to transport paying adventurers to the ISS.
After a decade-long hiatus, Russia will send two Japanese tourists, including billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, to the ISS in December, ending a year that has been a milestone for amateur space travel.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)