THE RACE to make the first feature film in space is heating up after Russia on Thursday announced plans to send an actress and a director to the cosmos this year.
They'll reach the International Space Station in October – the same month Tom Cruise is expected to arrive there to begin his own movie project in collaboration with Nasa.
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The Russian "space drama", whose working title is "Challenge," will feature popular Russian actress Yulia Peresild, 36, Roscosmos said.
The production will also involve Klim Shipenko, a 37-year-old director and actor, according to the space agency.
They will have to undergo training, including tests on a centrifuge and flights in zero gravity, starting no later than June 1.
The film is being co-produced by the flamboyant head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, and state-run network Channel One.
The crew are scheduled to begin their expedition on October 5 this year.
Cruise, 58, is to film his own project on the station sometime that month after travelling there on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
The Mission Impossible star, who's known for performing many of his own stunts, will be joined by 55-year-old director Doug Liman.
Further details are being kept tightly under wraps, although it's understood that Liman has written a draft screenplay for the project.
Nasa announced the money-making scheme last year, and Roscosmos' revelations hint that the Russians are trying to beat them to it.
The space agency also announced plans to take Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to the ISS in December.
Maezawa, 45, who made his fortune in online retail, said he planned to document the mission and share with the world on YouTube.
The eccentric philanthropist's official channel has more than 700,000 subscribers.
What is the ISS?
Here’s what you need to know about the International Space Station…
- The International Space Station, often abbreviated to ISS, is a large space craft that orbits Earth and houses astronauts who go up there to complete scientific missions
- Many countries worked together to build it and they work together to use it
- It is made up of many pieces, which astronauts had to send up individually on rockets and put together from 1998 to 2000
- Ever since the year 2000, people have lived on the ISS
- Nasa uses the station to learn about living and working in space
- It is approximately 250 miles above Earth and orbits around the planet just like a satellite
- Living inside the ISS is said to be like living inside a big house with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gym, lots of science labs and a big bay window for viewing Earth
Roscosmos said Maezawa would make the flight from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
He'll be joined by production assistant Yozo Hirano aboard a Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft that is scheduled for December 8.
"I'm so curious 'What's life like in space?' So, I am planning to find out on my own and share with the world on my YouTube channel," Maezawa was quoted as saying by Roscosmos.
Maezawa will be the first space tourist to travel to the ISS since 2009 when Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberte travelled to the station.
Moscow is seeking to boost its embattled space programme.
Russia's cosmic ambitions have stagnated since the fall of the Soviet Union and been overtaken by US tech billionaire Elon Musk's company SpaceX.
According to Forbes magazine, space tourists could pay anywhere between $20million and $35million per person for eight to 12 days in space.
The cost of Maezawa's flight has not been disclosed.
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