Actress Yulia Peresild returns to Earth after spending 12 days on board the ISS

by Thomas Kitchen

Staff Writer

The following story was written by a student on the staff of The Jaguar Times as part of Hilliard Bradley High School’s Journalism Production course.

Russian actress Yulia Peresild gives an interview about her mission with AFP in Moscow. Image from Getty Images.
Russian actress Yulia Peresild gives an interview about her mission with AFP in Moscow. Image from Getty Images.

Russian actress Yulia Peresild and Film director Klim Shipenko returned to Earth on October 17th after spending 12 days in orbit on the International Space Station (ISS). The crew was brought back to Earth on board the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft along with cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky who had been on the ISS for the past 6 months. The crew was filming for the movie “The Challenge,” which centers around a Russian doctor, played by Peresild, who was dispatched to the ISS to save a cosmonaut (a Russian astronaut). The movie, if all goes according to schedule, will be the first movie made for commercial purposes in space. Adding another first to the list Russia holds in space. Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy, Pyotr Dubrov, and Anton Shkaplerov will also have cameos in the movie.

Yulia Peresild is the first professional actress to become a cosmonaut. Peresild was selected for the role from around 3,000 applicants. Peresild had said that she was “sad” to leave the ISS. “It seemed that 12 days was a lot, but when it was all over, I didn't want to leave.” She told Russian television. When Peresild exited the capsule of the Soyuz MS-18, she was met with applause and a bouquet of flowers. Film director Klim Shipenko said he filmed over 30 hours of movie material on board the space station. “Of course, it posed both artistic and technical challenges,” he said. The schedule the two had to work with was tight and on the last day they realized they had not spent enough time looking out the windows. Peresild had said in an interview, “I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, it felt like an eternity but on the other hand it felt like we just arrived and immediately needed to return.” The two are continuing to learn how to walk again as they readjust to Earth's gravity, otherwise they reported feeling fine.

In 2020, former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced in a tweet that NASA, SpaceX, and Tom Cruise were going to collaborate to film a movie in space. The goal of this movie was to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make NASA’s ambitious plans a reality. Tom Cruise was supposed to fly to the ISS on board a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule in October of 2021. The filming that would take place on the ISS is not to be part of a Mission Impossible movie. Not much has been heard of this planned mission beyond the announcement made in 2020, and as of October 2021 have heard of no planned SpaceX mission involving Tom Cruise.

Roscosmos (the Russian space agency) hopes to use the film starring Yulia Peresild as publicity for their space program. Roscosmos has slowly been losing public interest and funding. When SpaceX demonstrated the Crew Dragon as human rated in May of 2020 it ended the Russian monopoly on human flights to the ISS. Roscosmos also relies on old Soviet technology and lacks the funding necessary to invest in new technology. Though the film will likely add another first for the Russians in Space, Roscosmos is falling behind in the commercial space race to agencies like NASA and CNSA (China National Space Administration). They have even begun to fall behind commercial companies like ULA and SpaceX.

If the film is a success, Roscosmos hopes it will get the attention and funding it deserves.

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