The Challenge” is a notable achievement as the first feature film shot in space and it premiered in Russian cinemas. The film’s plot centers around a surgeon sent to the International Space Station (ISS) to save an injured cosmonaut. To create the movie, Russia sent an actress, Yulia Peresild, and a film director, Klim Shipenko, to the ISS for a 12-day stint in October 2021 to film scenes aboard the space station.
This project was a direct response to a Hollywood initiative announced in 2020, in which “Mission Impossible” star Tom Cruise, in collaboration with NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, had plans to shoot a film in space. Russia’s success in producing and releasing “The Challenge” marked a significant achievement and was seen as a source of national pride.
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the film as a symbol of Russia’s space achievements, emphasizing that Russia was the first to shoot a feature film in orbit. This accomplishment added to Russia’s long history of space exploration, which included pioneering space travel during the Soviet era.
Yulia Peresild played the role of the surgeon in the film, and Klim Shipenko was in charge of camera, lighting, and sound. They underwent four months of training before embarking on their space journey aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, accompanied by a cosmonaut. The film’s sequences were filmed in the Russian module of the ISS and featured cameo appearances by three Russian cosmonauts stationed there at the time.
“The Challenge” aimed to showcase the authenticity of filming in weightlessness, contrasting it with Hollywood movies that often use computer-generated imagery (CGI) to simulate zero gravity. Konstantin Ernst, the head of Russian TV network Channel One, expressed satisfaction in beating Hollywood and emphasized the difference between their film, shot in actual weightlessness, and CGI-heavy Hollywood productions.
The cost of the film was reported to be less than a billion rubles, which is approximately $12 million. The entire budget for the project was not disclosed. This achievement highlights Russia’s dedication to space exploration and its role in the global space community.