Speed Reads

space race

Russia beats Tom Cruise to the punch by arriving in space to make 1st movie in orbit

A Russian actor and director have boldly gone where no film crew has gone before: to space to make a feature film. Sorry, Tom Cruise. 

Actor Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko, and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov headed to space on Tuesday on the Soyuz MS-19, blasting off from Kazakhstan, The Associated Press reports. They'll be filming scenes for a movie called Challenge, which is set to become the first feature film ever shot in orbit. Peresild will star as a surgeon who has to save a cosmonaut at the space station. 

The Russian film crew blasted off early Tuesday and arrived at the International Space Station about three hours later, according to The New York Times. They'll be in orbit for 12 days to shoot scenes before returning to Earth. The Kremlin said missions like these that "advertise our achievements and space exploration" are "great for the country," while NASA said this will "mark the expansion of commercial space opportunities to include feature filmmaking." 

With this mission, Russia has also beaten Tom Cruise to the punch, as the actor had also been plotting his own movie shot in space. NASA last year revealed the historic partnership with Cruise and SpaceX to shoot a Doug Liman-directed film aboard the International Space Station, and it was reportedly set to have a budget of around $200 million, Variety reported. Then-NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, "We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA's ambitious plans a reality." 

At the time, this production was expected to make history as the first feature film shot in space, only for Russia to later reveal its own plans to do so. It hasn't been revealed when Cruise will blast off for his no-longer-historic mission, though if he'd like some words of advice on rocketing into space from a fellow actor, he can always check in with William Shatner next week.