A Russian actress and director, who spent 12 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to shoot the first film in space, returned to Earth on Sunday morning.
The Soyuz MS-18 capsule carrying Yulia Peressild, Klim Chipenko and cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky descended under a clear blue sky before landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan at 4:36 a.m., the scheduled time, according to images broadcast by the space agency. Russian, Roscosmos.
Director Klim Chipenko, 38, appeared coming out of the capsule, visibly distressed but smiling, waving his hand to cameras and people present, before being taken to doctors to check on his condition.
Youlia Peressild, 37, the actress playing the main role of the film, selected from some 3,000 applicants, was then extracted from the capsule to applause, in the same condition, before receiving a bouquet of flowers and being examined .
Everything is fine!
Cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who was the first to get out of the ship, was greeted by the boss of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, to whom he launched: “Everything is fine!”.
Shortly before returning to Earth, Mr. Rogozine had published photographs of his rescue team en route to the scene of the landing aboard ten helicopters.
Ahead of a competing American project with Tom Cruise, Yulia Peressild and Klim Chipenko took off on October 5 from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, alongside seasoned cosmonaut Anton Chkaplerov.
Their film, provisionally titled “The Challenge”, will feature a surgeon going aboard the ISS with the mission of saving the life of a cosmonaut. Two Russian cosmonauts currently stationed on the ISS and Mr. Chkaplerov will appear in this film as extras.
In a context of Russo-American rivalry, this cinematographic adventure also takes on the appearance of a new race for exploits in space, 60 years after the first man was put into orbit by the USSR, Yuri Gagarin.
Roscosmos had revealed his ambition last year, after the announcement of a filming project aboard the ISS with Tom Cruise, the star of the saga “Mission Impossible”, in partnership with Nasa and the company SpaceX d ‘Elon Musk.
The Russian team’s trip to the ISS was not without a hitch, cosmonaut Anton Chkaplerov having to dock the spacecraft manually at the orbital laboratory.
And when Russian flight controllers conducted tests on the Soyuz MS-18 capsule to bring the team back to Earth on Friday, the engines suddenly activated and had briefly off-center the ISS, without danger. Mr. Chipenko had started filming even before arriving on board the ISS, during the docking during which the actress assisted cosmonaut Anton Chkaplerov.
Their return to Earth has been documented by a film crew and will feature in the film, Konstantin Ernst, head of Russian channel Pervy Kanal, who co-produced the film, told AFP.
This initiative comes in the midst of the non-scientific rush for space, with the increase in recent months of leisure flights, such as those of British billionaires Richard Branson and American Jeff Bezos.
The Russian space sector, which was the pride of Moscow during the Soviet era with in particular the putting into orbit of the first satellite, the first animal, the first man and then the first woman, is today undermined by problems.
For Roscosmos, the film must restore a reputation tarnished by corruption scandals, serial blackouts and the loss of the lucrative monopoly of manned flights to the ISS.
If images have always accompanied missions in space, from the first steps on the Moon in 1969 to the publications on social networks of the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, a fictional feature film has never been shot in orbit.
In addition to the film, Roscosmos will soon lead a Japanese billionaire to the ISS, so as not to be left behind in the space tourism business.