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Russians say ‘mission possible’ as film crew set to launch into orbit

Russian actress Yulia Peresild at the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Images courtesy: Roscosmos and Twitter/@Anton_Astrey)

A new chapter in space travel will be added on Tuesday when the Soyuz-2.1a rocket with the Soyuz MS-19 crewed spacecraft and ISS-66 expedition crew is launched into orbit at 11:55 Moscow time from Launchpad 31 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

With a Russian cosmonaut, actress, and film producer on board, the launch will mark the expansion of commercial space opportunities to include feature filmmaking.

In an exciting mission, the crew will be filming segments for a movie titled 'Vyzov' (The Challenge) – a joint project between Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, Channel One Russia and Yellow, Black and White studio – one of the largest production studios in Russia.

The main crew of the 66th long-term expedition to the International Space Station includes Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov (fourth flight into orbit) and space flight participants film director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild, who will be making their spaceflight debut. Their backups are Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, actress Alyona Mordovina and cinematographer Alexey Dudin.

Space flight rocket

The docking with the Russian segment of the ISS is scheduled two orbits after entering the target orbit. The trio aboard will join Expedition 65 Commander Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.

According to the Russian space agency, the film is about a girl doctor, who by force of dramatic circumstances has one month to prepare for the flight and go to the ISS to complete an important task.

The movie is aimed to popularize Russia's space activities, as well as glorify cosmonaut profession and spotlight that spaceflights are now gradually becoming available for a much wider range of people.

The ISS-66 crew is to work in orbit for 174 days, while the mission's spaceflight participants will stay at the ISS for at least 12 days.

Peresild and Shipenko will return to Earth with Novitskiy on October 17 on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, currently docked at the space station, for a parachute-assisted landing on the Kazakh steppe. Shkaplerov will remain aboard the station through next March.

Russian Space flight Movie

The future space flight participants had been training at Baikonur for a long time, starting from getting acquainted with the spacesuit, learning to eat in space and use the sanitary and hygienic unit.

Over the past many weeks, they have also got acquainted with the structure of the ship and the station while undergoing extensive and exhausting physical training.

"Similar accelerated training of film cast will be needed in the future to send other specialists to orbit, including doctors and scientists," said Roscosmos emphasising that the scientific and educational project implemented on the ISS during the flight will revolutionize the spaceflight programme.  

'The Challenge' has already generated a lot of interest in Russia this year as the protagonist to fly to the ISS, as well as the backup, were selected during an open contest.

Meanwhile, the Soyuz-2.1a rocket has been decorated with the project symbols. The side and central blocks carry the emblems of Roscosmos, Glavkosmos (part of Roscosmos) and Channel One, red and blue stripes decorate all three stages and the payload fairing. In addition, the third stage is also decorated with the ‘Challenge’ logo project.

Last year, Jim Bridenstine, the former NASA Administrator, had revealed that the agency was working with Tom Cruise on a film aboard the International Space Station, saying that the project would inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make NASA's ambitious plans a reality.

Having beaten Cruise in his mission which is now no longer impossible, the Russian government Twitter handle recently asked where the Hollywood actor was as Peresild and Shipenko trained at their facility!

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