The actress and director took off on a rocket en route to the International Space Station (ISS) as Russia hopes to score token points against US rivals by filming its first movie in orbit.
Russian actress Yulia Peresild, 37, and director Klim Chipenko, 38, are accompanied by veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov as the trio take off Tuesday morning from the Russian spaceport in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos tweeted that the crew had successfully taken off and are in orbit.
They will have 12 days to film the space sequences for the film, currently titled The Challenge, an undisclosed-budget film that will feature a doctor whose mission is to rescue an astronaut.
At the press conference on Monday, the director and actress looked relaxed.
This first feature film in space will be “an experiment,” said Chipenko, who will control the camera, make-up and lighting in the cramped space of the Russian segment of the ISS.
“I have no one to ask for advice. I have no one to ask the operators how to shoot in the light from the window, ”he said.
Roskosmos is trying to restore its reputation
Russia is aiming to get ahead of its rival the United States in this less explored part of the space race – making movies in space.
But aside from this artistic debut, this trip should allow Moscow to score against the US amid growing tensions.
The film could help restore the reputation of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, tarnished by corruption scandals, serial failures and the loss of a lucrative monopoly on manned flights to the ISS thanks to Elon Musk’s Space-X.
For Roskosmos, it’s about “defeating NASA and Space X” and “distracting attention from (its) problems,” political analyst Konstantin Kalachev told AFP.
The Russian agency abruptly revealed its film project last year after it was announced that actor Tom Cruise, the star of the Mission: Impossible saga, was due to film on the ISS.
While images have always accompanied spaceflights, from the first steps on the Moon in 1969 to social media posts by French astronaut Thomas Pescet, the feature film has never been filmed in orbit.
The two first-time spacewalkers, two members of the Russian film industry, underwent accelerated training to learn how to withstand high acceleration during takeoff or move in zero gravity.
And as a sign of the importance of this project for Russia, the film was produced by Dmitry Rogozin, director of Roscosmos, former Deputy Prime Minister, and Konstantin Ernst.
The latter hosted some of the greatest moments of Vladimir Putin’s reign: military parades, presidential investments, and the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics ceremonies.
In April, on the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first flight into space, the Soviet Union’s symbolic victory over the United States at the height of the Cold War, Putin declared that Russia must remain a great space power.
Therefore, the country intends to join the space tourism race, which has accelerated in recent months thanks to the flights of American and British billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.
In December, the launch of the Japanese billionaire into space is to take place.