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Russia is all set to make history. They are set to launch an actor and a film director into space to make the first space feature film in orbit. It is a project praised by the country’s space chief as an opportunity to boost Russia’s space program’s prestige.
Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko, and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran of three space missions, are ready to launch on Tuesday for the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. After spending 12 days in the space outpost, Peresild and Shipenko will return to earth.
The movie, “Challenge” focuses on the life of a surgeon who rushes to the space station, to save a crew member who suffers from a heart condition. Peresild acknowledges the training for the mission. She says it was grueling but described it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
It’s a miracle, an incredible chance
“It’s a miracle, an incredible chance,” she said. “We worked hard and we are really tired, even though we stay in good spirits and smile,” the 37-year-old actor confided. “It was psychologically, physically, and morally hard. But I think that once we achieve the goal, all that will seem not so difficult and we will remember it with a smile.”
Peresild admits it was difficult for her to adapt to the strict discipline and rigorous demands required during the training. Learning about the design and handling of the spacecraft was the most challenging part of the preparation for the flight. What she liked the most was a flight imitating weightlessness, in which a plane goes into a steep dive to allow that inside about 20 seconds in zero gravity.
Shipenko presented the true story of two Soviet cosmonauts launched to resurrect an abandoned space station in 1985. He described the four-month training course as very intensive. He adds that while it didn’t turn him and Peresild into professional astronauts. It indeed made them well prepared for the mission.
“No one had that experience before. To prepare people who had no relation whatsoever to the space program for a space flight,” he said. Saying it could be useful in the future if a need arises to urgently send an outside expert into orbit.
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, is a key driving force behind the project. He describes making the world’s first space feature film as a chance to raise the nation’s space prestige. “Movies have become a powerful instrument of propaganda,” he said in June. Arguing the new film would help counter what he described as Western efforts to “humiliate” the Russian space program.
The three recruits will join European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbroug, and others on Tuesday. Novitskiy will play the injured cosmonaut in the film. He will occupy the captain’s seat in a Soyuz spacecraft which will return the crew to Earth on Oct. 17.
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