Nearly 60 years after the USSR beat the United States to space with the Sputnik satellite, another space race is heating up.
A Russian cosmonaut, actress, and film producer have made their way to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan to film segments for the movie “Challenge,” launching the expansion of commercial space opportunities.
Last year, former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted that the agency was looking forward to working with Tom Cruise on a movie filmed in space, but Russia beat them to the launch.
NASA officials now say that there are currently no plans for that kind of visit to the space station.
The Russians used the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft to make a fast-track, two-orbit journey to dock to the station’s Rassvet module.
And while Hollywood isn’t in space, the drama is.
During the docking, Shkaplerov, a three-flight veteran, had to manually control the ship during the final approach because the spacecraft’s automated rendezvous system was unable to cope with “ratty data.” There were also frequent communications dropouts and even a “God be with us” heard on the Russian radio channel. The crew eventually and successfully connected to the space station’s Russian Rassvet module a little more than three hours after liftoff.
But this isn’t the first time the Russians have had a problem docking. Back in late July, NASA officials announced that the ISS was thrown briefly out of control when jet thrusters of a newly arrived Russian research module inadvertently fired a few hours after it was docked to the orbiting outpost.
And, don’t forget that the ISS has problems of its own. Concerns were raised after Bill Shepherd told the US Congress back in September that there are about a dozen cracks in Russia’s 23-year-old Zarya module, and that “there are probably other cracks we haven’t found yet.”
Peresild and Shipenko will spend 12 days on the space station before returning to Earth in the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft with Novitskiy, who has been on a 190-day mission.
It’ll be interesting to see what the producer and actress create during their visit to the Russian lab aboard the ISS.
Peresild and Shipenko will return with Novitskiy on October 16 on the docked Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, not the spacecraft they launched in.
Shkaplerov will stay behind until next March when he returns with American Mark Vande Hei and Russian Pyotr Dubrov on the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft marking the end to their 355-day mission.
Vande Hei will make US history as he completes the longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut.
Though it is still unclear when the US will film in space, we are sending an actor to orbit. William Shatner, or Captain Kirk as you may know him, will join the Blue Origin crew on New Shepard on October 12. At 90 years old, he’ll be the oldest person to have flown into space.
We’ll continue our coverage of this historic landmark in commercialized space.