If images have always accompanied space missions – 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 had never been made. across the Karman line. A Russian actress and director took off on Tuesday, October 5 in the morning, to shoot the first feature film in orbit in history, and thus score symbolic points against American competitors, after years of disappointment. The stake is to anticipate the film project in space with Tom Cruise, whose schedule is not known.
Accompanied by a seasoned cosmonaut, actress Yulia Peressild, 37, and director Klim Chipenko, 38, flew to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome. , in Kazakhstan, which docked with the ISS about three hours after taking off. The team will have twelve days to shoot the space footage of a film tentatively titled The challenge, a work, the budget of which is kept secret, which will feature a doctor whose mission is to save a cosmonaut.
At a press conference on Monday, the director and actress appeared relaxed. This first fictional feature film in space will have the value of” experience “, estimated Mr. Chipenko, who will handle the camera and take care of makeup and lighting in the cramped space of the Russian segment of the ISS. “I have no one to turn to for advice. I have no cameraman to ask how to film in the light of the porthole », he noted.
Score a point against the American rival
Beyond this artistic first, this trip should allow Moscow to score a point against the American rival, in a context of growing tensions. For the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the film must restore a coat of arms tarnished by corruption scandals, serial blackouts and the loss of the lucrative monopoly of manned flights to the ISS, since the entry into the running of the company Space X, Elon Musk. For Roscosmos, it is therefore a question of “Triumph over NASA and Space X” and of ” To divert attention [vis-à-vis de ses] problems “, said political scientist Konstantin Kalatchev.
The Russian agency had abruptly revealed its film project in 2020, after the announcement of a filming project on board the ISS with Tom Cruise, the star of the saga Impossible mission. The two first-time space travelers, two figures of Russian cinema, underwent accelerated training to learn to withstand the violent acceleration of take-off or to move in zero gravity.
Russia therefore intends to join the space tourism race, which has accelerated in recent months with the flights of American and British billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. It must thus propel a Japanese billionaire into space in December.
Among Roscosmos’ other ambitions are a strictly Russian space station and a Russian-Chinese station in orbit, even on the Moon, Moscow having decided to slam the door of a Washington lunar project deemed too American-centered. But none of these projects yet have a specific budget or timetable.