Russian film crew passes medical checks for October launch to space station

A Russian Soyuz rocket and capsule launch to the International Space Station in April 2021.
A Russian Soyuz rocket and capsule launch to the International Space Station in April 2021. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A Russian film director and actor, plus their backups, have passed preflight medical tests for an October launch to the International Space Station to shoot scenes for a movie dubbed "Challenge."

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, had previously announced that it was working with Channel One and the film studio Yellow, Black and White on a movie to be shot partially in space. The project opened a competition last year for women interested in a starring role in the film, which would be directed by Klim Shipenko, who would also launch for the filming.

The project has selected actor Yulia Peresild to join Shipenko in the prime crew, according to a Roscosmos statement published Thursday (May 13). Actor Alena Mordovina and cinematographer Alexey Dudin will serve as backup crew members. Peresild and Shipenko (or Mordovina and Dudin, if it works out that way) will launch toward the station with a Roscosmos cosmonaut on Russia's three-seat Soyuz spacecraft.

Related: Here's how NASA just booked a last-minute trip to space on a Russian Soyuz

Roscosmos cleared two actors, Yulia Peresild and Alena Mordovina, as a crew member and backup crew member for a Soyuz flight launching to the space station in October. Galina Kairova entered the competition and was not chosen, but Roscosmos said it has invited her to continue the selection process for joining its cosmonaut corps. (Image credit: Roscosmos)

The crew will begin training for spaceflight at Roscosmos' Star City facility by June 1, the agency said. Training will be filmed by Channel One and will include centrifuge tests, vibration stand tests, zero-gravity flights and parachute training.

Roscosmos noted that one applicant to the "Challenge" competition, a pilot named Galina Kairova, while not selected for the film, was invited to continue the application process to join the cosmonaut corps professionally. Roscosmos most recently selected four new cosmonaut candidates in January 2021 after an 18-month selection process.

The Challenge flight is one of two Soyuz launches late this year that will carry non-cosmonauts to the space station. In December, Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese entrepreneur, will spend nearly two weeks in orbit, joined by Yozo Hirano, who will film the experience. Maezawa already has another spaceflight booked: He is scheduled to fly around the moon aboard a SpaceX Starship in 2023.

Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will join Maezawa and Hirano on the flight, which will last 12 days, according to Roscosmos. The crew will begin training for the mission in June. Maezawa booked the flight through Space Adventures, which last flew a tourist to the space station aboard a Soyuz capsule in 2009.

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.