Crew of Russian Commercial Mission to ISS Answers Questions in Preflight News Conference

Soyuz ISS-66 crew members: actress Yulia Peresild, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and film director Klim Shipenko. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — A pre-flight press conference of the main and backup crews of the ISS-66 Expedition took place at the Cosmonaut Training Center. Journalists, bloggers, social media users from all over the world sent many questions to them. The event was held online in cooperation with TASS, Roscosmos State Corporation, Channel One and the Yu.A. Gagarin.

Recall that the main crew of ISS-66: Hero of the Russian Federation, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, film director Klim Shipenko, and actress Yulia Peresild. Their understudies are Hero of the Russian Federation, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemiev, cameraman Alexei Dudin, and actress Alena Mordovina.

Representatives of the creative professions go on a short expedition into orbit and must return to Earth with the ISS-65 flight engineer Oleg Novitsky. ISS-66 crew commanders underwent training under a program providing for six-month work in space. Oleg Artemyev has two space missions on his account so far, Anton Shkaplerov is preparing for his fourth expedition into orbit.

Answering the question of journalists, how will the next flight differ from the previous ones, the commander of the ISS-66 prime crew explained that for the first time he will have to fly a spacecraft without the help of a flight engineer.

“I will perform most of the functions of the flight engineer myself. If not an astronaut is sent into orbit, but a person of a different profession, he receives the status of a participant in a space flight. But if necessary, Klim and Yulia will help me, they have been trained. We will fly according to the “fast scheme”, and about three hours after the launch, our spacecraft should dock with the ISS. And already at the station itself, of course, new experience will have to be acquired, because no one has previously filmed a feature film in space or filmed in it, ”said Anton Shkaplerov .

The project with the working title “Challenge” is about a female doctor who, due to dramatic circumstances, goes to the ISS to save the life of an astronaut. Stage director Klim Shipenko noted that it will be a drama in terms of genre. The filming involves all Russian cosmonauts who will be on the ISS: Anton Shkaplerov, Oleg Novitsky and Peter Dubrov. They will play representatives of their profession. 

The director is sure that only the cosmonauts in orbit have not yet starred in feature films, while representatives of all “earthly” specialties have such experience. It is curious that each of the participants in the “Challenge” project will have to try on different roles in space. The cosmonauts will temporarily become actors, the director will act as an operator and illuminator, the actress will be a costume designer and make-up artist for everyone else.

The commander of the ISS-66 backup crew, Oleg Artemyev, emphasized that the station has long become a large shooting area, because cosmonauts shoot videos about their life and work in zero gravity there, participate in online conferences, conduct reports and record video messages. But filming a feature film requires a completely different approach, so everyone is very interested in what will turn out in the end.

Alena Mordovina, bcking up Yulia Peresild, said that the experience of preparing for the flight at the CTC has greatly enriched her as an actress, and she will be able to apply it, for example, while working on other films. Klim Shipenko’s backup Alexey Dudin answered the question about technical devices for the implementation of the Challenge project in space. So, in particular, made special devices for the camera. At the CTC, the film crew conducted a large number of rehearsals.

This will not be just the first movie in orbit, but a part of a joint scientific and educational project of Channel One, Roscosmos State Corporation and Yellow, Black, White studios. The project will become a clear indication that space flights are gradually becoming available to a wider range of interested persons.

Traditionally, at every pre-flight conference, a question is asked about a toy zero-gravity indicator. This time there will be three of them: the snow leopard, whom his youngest daughter Kira chose for Anton Shkaplerov, as well as Galchonok and Cheburashka, whom his partners will take with them. The commander of the ISS-66 prime crew joked that with so many indicators, they would definitely not miss the moment when they fell into zero gravity. This should happen 9 minutes after the start.

ISS-66 crews will continue training for the flight to Baikonur. The launch of the Soyuz MS-19 manned transport vehicle is scheduled for October 5, 2021 from the Baikonur cosmodrome. The planned duration of the ISS-66 crew is 174 days. The estimated duration of space flight participants on the ISS is at least 12 days.