U.K.-based Space Entertainment Enterprise (SEE) has announced plans to launch a movie production studio module intended to connect to the International Space Station (ISS).
The company, which is co-producing Tom Cruise's upcoming unnamed space movie, has commissioned Houston-based Axiom Space to build an inflatable space station module that contains a production studio — including a sports arena — by December 2024.
According to a SEE statement (opens in new tab), the module — currently named SEE-1 — is "intended to host films, television, music and sports events as well as artists, producers and creatives who want to make content in the low orbit, microgravity environment. The facilities will enable development, production, recording, broadcasting and livestreaming of content." The company intends to produce its own content and events in the module while also making it available to third parties.
Related: Q&A with Axiom Space CTO Matt Ondler
Yes, the concept artwork would have us think that it looks like a PlayStation Move motion controller, or a giant, galactic-sized golf ball. But according to Axiom Space, it has a diameter of about 20 feet (6 meters).
Axiom Space, which was founded in 2016, boasts a wealth of experience crafting its vision, including CEO Mike Suffredini, who served as NASA's ISS program manager from 2005 to 2015. Co-founder and executive chairman Kam Ghaffarian co-founded Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, a contractor that trains NASA astronauts and other agency personnel who work in the ISS program.
The module will dock on Axiom's commercial section of the ISS, named Axiom Station — which the company aims to have launched by late 2024. The so-called Axiom Station will connect to the space station's Harmony node and will also offer other commercial opportunities, such as space tourism. This could potentially detach from the ISS in 2028 and become a separate orbiting platform as the ISS reaches the end of its operational lifespan.
Co-founded by entrepreneurs Elena and Dmitry Lesnevsky, SEE currently planning a fundraising round, because hauling equipment and supplies up to low Earth orbit isn't cheap.
The cost per kilogram (opens in new tab) using the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is $2,720; that's more than $200,000 for the average weight of a U.S. adult, and that estimate was from 2018. Then there's the cost of staying up there, which can range anywhere from between $88,000 to $164,000 (opens in new tab) per person per day.
Cruise, 58, whose worth is estimated at (opens in new tab) $600 million, has something of a reputation for his adherence to action and performing as many stunts as he can himself. In order to film himself flying an AS-350 Ecureuil helicopter in "Mission: Impossible – Fallout," production was halted (opens in new tab) while Cruise trained to become a qualified helicopter stunt pilot. Prior to the start of principal photography, he trained for an entire year to perform the High Altitude Low Opening stunt in this film. He also landed his helicopter (opens in new tab) in Battersea in London as a promotional stunt for the movie ... and he owns a (opens in new tab) mint condition P-51 Mustang from WWII that's kept in a private hangar at Long Beach Airport in Los Angeles; he has held a full pilot's license since 1994.
So, months of intensive training followed by flying about 250 miles (400 kilometers) straight up on top of a rocket to rendezvous in low Earth orbit, to make a movie, seems like a perfectly reasonable next step for this real life Action Man.