A Russian crew of two astronauts, a film director and an actress, shot their first film in space for the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, the latest twist on decades of Russian-American space competition.
The Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft stops at 12:12 GMT (5:42 PM IST) and orbits the Earth at an altitude of about 220 miles (354 km).
The Russian state media provided the blanket and patriotism, the Countdown clock runs on Channel One and news anchors are watching this development closely as the rest of the world as Russia makes significant progress.
Contrary to the mixed fortunes of Russia’s own aerospace industry, it has been plagued by delays, crashes and corruption scandals in recent years as US-based private companies have built new spacecraft with the support of wealthy businessmen.
The 12-day mission follows the launch of the first all-civilian crew on a rocket and capsule developed by SpaceX, founded by Russian missionary Elon Musk.
The Russian project was originally designed ahead of a Hollywood project announced by actor Tom Cruise in collaboration with NASA and SpaceX earlier this year.
As the Soviet Union at first Russia and the United States competed fiercely to achieve various space exploration milestones: Russia launched the first satellite and launched the first man and woman into space, but NASA hit it on the moon landing.
The Russian film titled “The Challenge” focuses on the story of a doctor, portrayed by actress Yulia Perzild, who goes to the space station to save the life of an astronaut. Cosmonaut crew members are also set to appear in the film.
Director Klim Shipenko, whose height is 1.9 meters (6 feet 2 inches) makes the flight particularly challenging in a small capsule, has already said he expects a series based on Mars.
The crew will be launched from the Pykonor Cosmotrome in the prairies of the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan in Central Asia, reflecting the Soviet roots of Russia’s aerospace industry. Russia has leased Cosmotrome.
Russia’s own, the new Vostokni Cosmotrome is years away from delivering drones, officials say.
© Thomson Reuters 2021