Russian Soyuz Spacecraft with Actor, Director Arrives at ISS

The crew of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft was welcomed aboard the International Space Station Tuesday, though a communications glitch during their final approach delayed their eventual boarding.

The Soyuz spacecraft was launched Tuesday from the Russian spaceport in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The ship was carrying a history-making crew, as it included film director Klim Shipenko and actor Yulia Peresild, who will be filming a feature film during their stay at the station.

After the spacecraft orbited the earth twice and made a final approach to the ISS, mission control reported the Soyuz craft experienced some communication issues. Those issues resulted in the crew abandoning automated docking procedures. Veteran Cosmonaut Shkaplerov, the other crew member on the Soyuz craft, manually guided the spacecraft into place without a problem.

The manual docking set back the scheduled opening of the hatch between the spacecraft and the station by an hour.

Once they were welcomed on board the ISS, Shipenko and Peresild will spend the next 12 days filming segments of a new feature film called “Challenge” — the first to actually be shot in outer space.  

NASA says filming will begin almost immediately. Pereslid will play a doctor who is launched to the orbital outpost to save an ailing cosmonaut. Shkaplerov and two fellow cosmonauts already on board the ISS, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, will all have speaking roles in the film.

Shipenko and Pereslid will return to Earth on October 17 with Novitskiy.

The historic mission beats out a similar plan announced last year by Hollywood superstar actor Tom Cruise, the U.S. space agency NASA and Elon Musk’s privately-owned SpaceX company, which ferries crews and cargo to the ISS.  

Russian space officials are hoping the film will restore some luster to the program, which has fallen from its glory days of the 1950s and `60s, when it launched the first man-made satellite as well as the first man and woman, into orbit, but has been plagued by delays, accidents and corruption scandals in recent years.

Tuesday’s launch comes nearly a month after four Americans became the first all-civilian crew to orbit the Earth, spending three days in space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press.

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