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Russian film crew blasts to make first film in space

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Russia is set to launch an actress and a film director into space.

Moscow:

Russia is set to launch an actress and a film director into space on Tuesday to best showcase the United States for the first film in orbit.

If successful, the Russian crew would beat a Hollywood project announced earlier this year by “Mission Impossible” star Tom Cruise with NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Actress Yulia Peresild, 37, and film director Klim Shipenko, 38, are expected to take off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in former Soviet Kazakhstan at 0855 GMT.

Led by veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, they will travel in a Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft for a 12-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) to film scenes for “The Challenge”.

The film’s plot, which has mostly been kept under wraps with its budget, was revealed by Russia’s space agency Roscosmos to center around a female surgeon who is sent to the ISS to rescue an astronaut.

Dressed in a flight suit, director Shipenko called the film “an experiment” in an online press conference on Monday.

“Some things will work and some things will not,” he admitted.

Shipenko and Peresild are expected to return to Earth on October 17 in a capsule with astronaut Oleg Novitsky, who has been on the ISS for the past six months.

The launch comes at a challenging time for Russia’s space industry, which is struggling to secure state funding with the Kremlin prioritizing military spending.

Compared to Soviet times – when Moscow launched the first satellite Sputnik and sent the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space – Russia has struggled to innovate.

Russians lost interest in space

Its space agency still relies on Soviet-designed technology and has suffered several setbacks, including corruption scandals and failed launches.

Russia is also lagging behind in the global space race, facing stiff competition from the United States and China, with Beijing showing growing ambitions in the industry.

Roscosmos also suffered a setback last year after SpaceX successfully delivered astronauts to the ISS, costing Russia a monopoly on travel to the orbital station.

But for political analyst Konstantin Kalachev, the space film is a matter of PR and a way to “distract” the Russians from the “problems” facing Roscosmos.

“It’s going to inspire the Russians, it shows how cool we are, but I think the Russians have completely lost interest in the space industry,” Kalachev told AFP.

In a bid to shore up its image and diversify its revenues, Russia revealed this year that it would revive its space tourism program to bring fee-paying adventurers to the ISS.

After a decade-long pause, Russia will send two Japanese tourists, including billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, to the ISS in December, which has been a milestone for amateur space travel.

Last month, SpaceX completed the first all-civilian mission in space that took four untrained astronauts on a three-day loop around Earth’s orbit.

The trip followed the mission of billionaire Richard Branson, who spent several minutes in weightlessness in July, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos completing a similar mission a few days later.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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