Russian film crew returns to Earth from space station today. Here's how to watch online.

A Russian crew including a cosmonaut, an actress and a film producer-director will all return from the International Space Station Sunday (Oct. 17), and you can watch much of the event live.

On board the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft will be cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, who will be returning to Earth after 191 days in space, on his third long-duration mission. Novitskiy will have racked up 531 days in space across three missions by the time the Soyuz lands on the steppes of Kazakhstan. Touchdown is expected at 12:36 a.m. EDT (0436 GMT, 10:36 a.m. local time).

Riding home with Novitskiy will be Russian actress Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko (a Russian producer-director), who arrived at the station Oct. 5 to film the science fiction movie called "The Challenge." Their Soyuz 2.1a rocket was specially decorated for the film.

You can watch the Soyuz landing live here and on Space.com's homepage, courtesy of NASA TV. The agency will webcast the crew's farewells, undocking and landing on Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 16-17) on NASA Television and will have updates on social media. The hatch closure will not be carried live, however. NASA's landing webcast itself begins at 11:15 p.m. EDT (0315 GMT).

Live updates: Soyuz MS-19 mission to the International Space Station
In photos: Russian film crew launches to the International Space Station

Here are the key events to look for during the NASA broadcast; all of these events are subject to timing changes for logistical or other reasons.

  • 4:15 p.m. EDT (2015 GMT) — The farewell broadcast begins, with an official ceremony expected about 20 minutes later. Farewells set for 4:35 p.m. EDT (2035 GMT).
  • 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT Sunday)  — Soyuz undocking and a replay of the hatch closure. The undocking is scheduled for 9:14 p.m. EDT (0114 GMT).
  • 11:15 p.m. EDT (0315 GMT Sunday) — Landing broadcast begins. 
  • 11:42 p.m. EDT (0342 GMT Sunday) — Deorbit burn begins. 
  • 12:36 a.m. EDT Sunday (0436 GMT) — Landing.

The Russian film crew spent 12 days aboard the station working on the production, which cast Peresild in a role of a surgeon sent to the International Space Station to treat a cosmonaut struck by a heart attack during a spacewalk.

Cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky will play in the film as the ailing space traveler. Novitsky and fellow Russian cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov filmed the approach of the film crew's Soyuz capsule from aboard the space station; Dubrov and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov are also expected to appear in the film.

Most of the filming took place in the Russian segment of the space station, but at least some scenes were expected to be filmed in the U.S. Tranquility Node's cupola window that faces Earth. The Russian spacefliers were only allowed outside the Russian segment under escort.

The undocking will also mark the beginning of Expedition 66, including crew commander Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, and Mark Vande Hei, JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Shkaplerov and Dubrov.

To accommodate the film project, the first-ever professional movie shot at the space station, the missions of Dubrov and American astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who arrived with Novitsky in April, had to be extended by six months; they are expected to come back to Earth with Shkaplerov in April 2022. This extension will make Vande Hei's space trip the longest-ever by an American astronaut, for a forecast 353 days.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace