The US is once again in a space race with Russia and things aren’t looking too great for competitors Tom Cruise and Elon Musk. While just last year the pair announced their intention to create the first narrative movie filmed in space, it’s looking like the Tesla CEO and action star might be too late to achieve such greatness. After spending 12 days on the International Space Station, Russian director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild have returned to Earth, with an entire film shot in space ready to edit and become the first-ever movie shot in space.
After launching into orbit from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan earlier this month, the pair safely made their return to Earth on October 17, following just under two weeks of filming in space. While the movie’s plot (and surely lofty budget) have been kept tightly under wraps, The Guardian reports it “centers around a surgeon who is dispatched to the ISS to save a cosmonaut.” In addition to Pereslid, veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and two Russian cosmonauts who were already stationed aboard the ISS are set to appear in the film.
While the sheer cost of the project is surely enough to have kept so many filmmakers away from this endeavor, safety is also of huge concern. While Shipenko and Pereslid managed to stay safe, apparently the pair’s mission was not without “small hitches.” According to a NASA spokesperson, “when Russian flight controllers on Friday conducted a test on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft the ship’s thruster fired unexpectedly and destabilized the ISS for 30 minutes.” While ultimately everything went well for the cosmonauts aboard the ISS and the film team, it just goes to show the very real risks associated with filming 250 miles above the surface of the Earth.
If the film manages to hit the big screen before Musk and Cruises’ (which seems pretty damn likely at this point), it will be another major space-related accomplishment for Russia after launching the first satellite and sending into orbit the first man, woman, and animal.