The Russian actress and director who spent twelve days aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to shoot the first film in space returned to Earth on Sunday, October 17. The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft carrying Yulia Peressild, Klim Chipenko and astronaut Oleg Novitsky landed on the steppes of Kazakhstan at 6:36 a.m. PST, according to images broadcast live by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
Director Klim Chipenko, 38, appeared coming out of the capsule, visibly distressed but smiling, waving his hand at cameras and those 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 candidates, was then extracted from the capsule to the applause, in the same condition, before receiving a bouquet of flowers and being examined.
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.
New race for feats in space
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 cosmonaut Anton Chkaplerov. Their film, tentatively 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, sixty years after the first man was put into orbit by the USSR, Yuri Gagarin.
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.
This initiative also comes in the midst of the unscientific rush for space, with the increase in recent months of leisure flights, such as those of British billionaires Richard Branson and American Jeff Bezos. Likewise, Roscosmos will soon lead a Japanese billionaire to the ISS.
The film project has sparked controversy within the Russian scientific community. The agency’s manned flight program director Sergei Krikalev was even fired this summer for saying the money would have been better invested in space research and innovation. The French astronaut Thomas Pesquet also expressed his skepticism, noting that one could do so realistic in the studio. However, it was under his command that the Russian mission took place, Thomas Pesquet having taken up his duties as captain of the ISS for the first time, on October 4, for a period of thirteen days.
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The Russian team that made the first film in space are back on Earth