A Russian actress and director had been set to return to Earth on Sunday following spending 12 days in the International Space Station (ISS) shooting scenes for the initially film in orbit.
If the project stays on track, the Russian crew will beat a Hollywood project announced last year by “Mission Impossible” star Tom Cruise with each other with NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Actress Yulia Peresild, 37, and film director Klim Shipenko, 38, blasted off from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan earlier this month, travelling to the ISS with veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov to film scenes for “The Challenge”.
The movie’s plot, which has been mainly kept below wraps along with its spending budget, centres about a female surgeon who is dispatched to the ISS to save a cosmonaut.
Shkaplerov, 49, and the two Russian cosmonauts who had been currently aboard the ISS are stated to have cameo roles in the film.
The mission has not come without the need of hitches.
As the film crew docked at the ISS earlier this month, Shkaplerov had to switch to manual manage.
And when Russian flight controllers on Friday performed a test on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft set to ferry the crew back to Earth, the ship’s thruster fired unexpectedly and destabilised the ISS for 30 minutes, a NASA spokesman told the Russian news agency TASS.
But the spokesman stated their departure is set to go ahead as scheduled.
Peresild and Shipenko will bid farewell to the ISS crew on Saturday evening, the spokesman stated, and commence undocking at 0100 GMT.
They will be shepherded home by cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who has been on the space station for the previous six months, and are set to land in Kazakhstan on Sunday at 0436 GMT.
21st-century space race
Their landing will be documented by a film crew and will also feature in the film, Konstantin Ernst, the head of the Kremlin-friendly Channel One Television network and a co-producer of “The Challenge”, told AFP.
If thriving, the mission will add to a extended list of firsts for Russia’s space market.
The Soviets launched the initially satellite Sputnik, and sent into orbit the initially animal, a dog named Laika, the initially man, Yuri Gagarin and the initially lady, Valentina Tereshkova.
But compared with the Soviet era, modern day Russia has struggled to innovate and its space market is fighting to safe state funding with the Kremlin prioritising military spending.
Its space agency is nevertheless reliant on Soviet-created technologies and has faced a quantity of setbacks, such as corruption scandals and botched launches.
Russia is also falling behind in the worldwide space race, facing hard competitors from the United States and China, with Beijing displaying expanding ambitions in the market.
Russia’s Roscosmos space agency was also dealt a blow following SpaceX last year effectively delivered astronauts to the ISS, ending Moscow’s monopoly for journeys to the orbital station.
In a bid to spruce up its image and diversify its income, Russia’s space programme revealed this year that it will be reviving its tourism strategy to ferry charge-paying adventurers to the ISS.
After a decade-extended pause, Russia will send two Japanese vacationers — such as billionaire Yusaku Maezawa — to the ISS in December, capping a year that has been a milestone for amateur space travel.