We are a week away from the launch of a Russian film crew to the International Space Station.
Director Klim Shipenko, actor Yulia Peresild and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov are expected to set off for the orbiting laboratory aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft next Tuesday (October 5). The trio will take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan just before 5:00 a.m. EDT (09:00 GMT), if all goes according to plan.
Once at the station, Shipenko and Peresild will shoot part of a film called “Challenge”, which is a joint production of Moscow-based film studio Yellow, Black and White, Russian channel Channel One and Roscosmos, the the country’s federal space agency. .
Soyuz spacecraft: the backbone of the Russian space program
Shipenko and Peresild will return to Earth in another Soyuz spacecraft on October 17, along with cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, who has been living on the space station since April. Shkaplerov, however, will remain in orbit for the longer term.
The upcoming mission is the first in a series of non-professional astronaut shipments to the station over the next few months. In December, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, video producer Yozo Hirano and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will fly aboard a Soyuz, for a trip booked through the Virginia company Space Adventures. Like Shipenko and Persild, Maezawa and Hirano will spend 12 days in orbit.
Then, at the end of February, Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission will send four people to the station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. Three of them are paying customers; the fourth is former NASA astronaut Michael LÃ³pez-AlegrÃa, an Axiom employee who will command the mission.
These upcoming flights follow the very first fully private crewed flight into Earth orbit – SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission, which sent Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski into the air on a Crew Dragon.
Inspiration4 – which was booked and commissioned by Isaacman, the billionaire founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments – did not meet the International Space Station, however. The Crew Dragon zoomed around Earth solo for three days, flying significantly higher than the orbiting lab, before landing off the coast of Florida on September 18.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.