For the first time in history, Russia sent a film crew to space. A cosmonaut, an actress and a director will spend 10 days on the International Space Station (ISS) to film the world's first movie in orbit.
Veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, actor Yulia Peresild and film producer Klim Shipenko took the space flight from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome as they bid to outmaneuver Hollywood. Their Soyuz MS-19 lifted off as scheduled at 1:55 p.m. (0855 GMT) from Baikonur and successfully reached the designated orbit, reported The Associated Press.
Russia to Make Movie History in Space
They will be filming segments for the movie "Challenge" -- the first feature film set in space. The movie will tell the story of a surgeon who has to operate on a sick cosmonaut in space because his medical condition prevents him from returning to Earth to be treated, reported CNN.
Speaking at a pre-flight news conference Monday, Peresild acknowledged that it was challenging for her to adapt to the strict discipline and rigorous demands during the training.
"It was psychologically, physically and morally hard," she said. "But I think that once we achieve the goal, all that will seem not so difficult and we will remember it with a smile."
Shipenko, who has made several commercially successful movies, also described their fast-track, four-month preparation for the flight as tough, according to AP.
"Of course, we couldn't make many things at the first try, and sometimes even at a third attempt, but it's normal," he said.
Russia is about to Win a Race Against NASA to Film the First Full-Length Movie in Space
The Russian duo packed themselves in heavy spacesuits hours before the flight waving to the crowds as they boarded their spacecraft.
The spaceship is due to arrive back home on October 17 along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky who has been aboard the ISS for the past six months.
"Not only do we need to make a film, we need to come back to Earth alive," Shkaplerov said.
The Russian crew is set to beat a Hollywood project that was announced last year by "Mission Impossible" star Tom Cruise together with NASA and Elon Musk's SpaceX.
NASA announced last year that it was in talks with Cruise about filming a movie on the ISS, but no timeline was ever publicized.
In a bid to spruce up its image and diversify its revenue, Russia's space programme revealed this year that it will be reviving its tourism programme to ferry fee-paying adventurers to the ISS, according to AFP.