It’s a wrap! Soyuz lands with film crew after filming on space station


October 16, 2021

– The first professional film crew to fly into space returns to Earth after 12 days of filming a movie aboard the International Space Station.

Russian actress Yulia Peresild and producer Klim Shipenko landed Sunday, October 17 with cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian federal space company Roscosmos. The three men boarded the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft for a landing at 12:35 a.m. EDT (4:35 a.m. GMT or 10:35 a.m. local time) on the steppe of Kazakhstan.

The landing concluded 191 days in space for Novitskiy, who concluded his stay at the station by playing a small role in the movie Peresild and Shipenko were there to film. A co-production of Roscosmos, Russian television channel Channel One and the Yellow, Black and White studio, “Вызов” (“Challenge” in English) follows the story of a surgeon (Peresild) who is launched at the station for perform emergency surgery on a cosmonaut (Novitskiy).

Shipenko has played several backstage roles in Orbit, including director, makeup artist, sound editor and cinematographer. Cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrovnik and Anton Shkaplerov, the latter of which took off with Peresild and Shipenko aboard the Soyuz MS-19 on October 5, also participated in the filming.

Novitskiy, Peresild and Shipenko began their return journey with the undocking of the Soyuz MS-18 from the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module on Saturday at 9:13 p.m. EDT (1:35 GMT Sunday). The spacecraft performed desorbit combustion and lost its orbital and propulsion modules before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere and descending under a parachute for a soft landing.

Recovery teams were in place to help the crew out of the descent capsule and carry out the first medical checks. Novitskiy, Peresild and Shipenko were then to be transported by helicopter to the Kazakh town of Karaganda before a plane from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center brought them back to Star City, outside Moscow.

The departure of the Soyuz MS-18 marked the end of Expedition 35 and the start of Expedition 66 aboard the space station. Headed by Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA), the station is now flown by cosmonauts Shkaplerov and Dubrovnik, astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei with NASA and the Japanese Agency astronaut d aerospace exploration (JAXA) Aki Hoshide.

Dubrovnik and Vande Hei were originally scheduled to land with Novitskiy on Soyuz-18, but to accommodate the film project their stays were extended by six months. Dubrovnik and Vande Hei will now land with Shkaplerov in March, after 365 days in space. Vande Hei will have completed the longest space flight by an astronaut in the history of the United States.

Roscosmos first announced the film project in November 2020. Peresild, 37, was chosen for the role from a pool of 3,000 nominees and 20 finalists. Along with her replacement, Alena Mordovina, Roscosmos said the cast has also tested a new model for selecting and training individuals on an abbreviated schedule.

An accomplished actress who has appeared in award-winning Russian films and television series, and performed on stage at the Malaya Bronnaya Theater in Moscow, Peresild became the first professional actor to fly into space. While in orbit, William Shatner (Star Trek’s Captain Kirk) became the second flight aboard a Blue Origin suborbital flight.

Peresild also became the fifth Russian woman to fly in space out of the 68 female astronauts in the world.

Shipenko, 38, is a director, screenwriter, actor and producer. Its previous credits include the 2017 feature film “Salyut 7”, which was loosely based on the actual 1985 mission to the last of the Soviet Union’s Salyut-class space stations.

Novitskiy, 50, has now flown three space missions for a total of 531 days in space. During Expedition 64/65, he completed three spacewalks, totaling 22 hours and 38 minutes of work in the vacuum of space. He was previously a member of the Expedition 33/34 and Expedition 50/51 crews in 2013 and 2017, respectively.

Prior to “Challenge”, Soviet-era cosmonauts filmed aboard the Soyuz T-9 and inside the Salyut 7 space station for the 1984 Russian narrative film “Return from Orbit”. Twenty-four years later, private astronaut Richard Garriott made “Apogee of Fear”, a science fiction short film set on board the International Space Station.

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft has traveled a total of 80.9 million miles (130 million km) while making 3,056 orbits around Earth.

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