Russia is set to launch an actress and a film director into space on Tuesday.
If successful, the Russian team will win a Hollywood project announced earlier this year by “Mission Impossible” star Tom Cruise, NASA and Elon Muskin on SpaceX.
Actress Yulia Perzild, 37, and film director Klim Shipenko, 38, are expected to depart from the Pykonor Cosmotrome in former Soviet Kazakhstan at 0855 GMT.
Led by senior astronaut Anton Schaplerov, they will film the “challenge” scenes for the 12-day voyage on the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft.
With the focus on a female surgeon sent to the ISS to save the astronaut, the storyline of the film, which is largely hidden with the film’s budget, was revealed by the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
Dressed in airplane attire, director Shipenko called the film “a test” at an online press conference on Monday.
“Some things will work, some things will not happen,” he admitted.
Shipenko and Peresild are expected to return to Earth on October 17, in a capsule with astronaut Oleg Nowitsky, who has been on the ISS for the past six months.
The spacecraft comes at a challenging time for Russia’s aerospace industry, which is struggling to secure state funds by prioritizing Kremlin military spending.
Compared to the Soviet era – when Moscow launched the first satellite Sputnik into space and sent the first man Yuri Gagarin into space – Russia struggled to innovate.
The Russians lost interest in space
Its space agency still relies on Soviet-designed technology and has suffered a number of setbacks, including corruption scandals and bombed launches.
Russia is also lagging behind in global space competition, facing stiff competition from the US and China, showing the growing ambitions of the Beijing industry.
Roscosmos also suffered a blow after SpaceX successfully delivered astronauts to the ISS last year, with Russia losing its monopoly on missions to the orbit station.
But according to political analyst Konstantin Kalachev, the space film is a way to “distract” Russians from the “problems” facing PR and Roscosmos.
“It will inspire the Russians and show how cool we are, but I think the Russians have completely lost interest in the aerospace industry,” Kalachev told the AFP.
Russia revealed this year that it plans to revamp its space tourism program to take adventurers who pay for the ISS in an effort to grow its image and diversify its revenue.
After a decade-long hiatus, Russia will send two Japanese tourists — billionaire Yusaku Mesawa — to the ISS in December, a milestone in amateur space travel.
Last month, SpaceX completed the first all-public mission to take four untrained astronauts on a three-day cycle around Earth’s orbit.
The trip was spent by billionaire Richard Branson and several minutes without weight in July and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos completed a similar task a few days later.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically created from a syndicate feed.)