On Tuesday, Russia sent an actress and a director into space to be the first to film a movie off-planet, according to the Associated Press (AP).

At 8:55 GMT, the Soyuz spacecraft lifted off from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, bound for the International Space Station. Inside the spaceship were actress Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko and veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov.

The trip lasted about 3.5 hours, and Shkaplerov had to dock the spacecraft manually after an automatic docking failure.

Parts of the movie “Challenge,” in which the 37-year-old actress plays a surgeon who has to travel to a space station to perform an urgent operation on a crew member, will be filmed on the Space Station.

In 12 days, they are expected to return to Earth along with another cosmonaut.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov spoke about the importance of filming these movies with scenes in space to show the world Russia’s space prowess, clarifying, “We have been pioneers in space and maintained a confident position,” the spokesman said.

A press conference was held on Monday at which the actress and the director spoke of their experiences during the training they undertook to be able to take the space trip.

Shipenko said that it was normal to make several attempts before performing some of the things they were assigned in training.

Peresild, in turn, told how difficult it was to adapt to the strict discipline and rigorous demands.

“It was psychologically, physically and morally hard,” the actress acknowledged, adding, “But I think that once we achieve the goal, all that will seem not so difficult and we will remember it with a smile.”

According to the director, the filming will be completed on Earth. In addition to Shkaplerov, two other Russian astronauts on the International Space Station will also participate.

Roscosmos Novitskiy will play the role of the astronaut who needs the operation and, after the filming, will be in charge of commanding the Soyuz capsule on its return to Earth, scheduled for October 17.

The head of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, is involved in the project and told journalists on Tuesday: “I expect the project to help draw attention to our space program, to the cosmonaut profession.”

Rogozin told about the modifications he made to the script to have situations that actually occur in space.

“We describe some real emergencies that may happen out there,” Rogozin said.

The making of the film is being covered closely by the state television channel, Channel One, which is participating in the project.

This film is bringing criticism from some Russian media, claiming that Russia’s allotted space on the International Space Station is smaller than the U.S. In addition, it may be uncomfortable to film and distracting to the crew.

It should be noted that before Russia took this initiative, NASA contacted Tom Cruise about making a movie in space.

According to AP, NASA confirmed that Cruise was developing this project together with director Doug Liman, NASA, and Elon Musk in May last year.

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