Three Russian nationals pose for a photo Sunday on their sixth day at the International Space Station as they shoot a film in space: director Klim Shipenko (left to right), actress Yulia Peresild and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, the commander of the mission.
Oct. 13 (UPI) -- A crew of three Russian space flyers is expected to leave the International Space Station Saturday night after a nearly two-week mission during which they filmed the first narrative feature film shot in space.
Cosmonaut and pilot Anton Shkaplerov is scheduled to undock from the space station about 9:13 p.m. EDT, with actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko at his side in the Russian Soyuz MS-18 capsule.
A relatively short spaceflight will see the trio back on Earth for a landing at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan about 12:36 p.m. EDT.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, didn't provide many details on how shooting the film Challenge, was proceeding. The agency posted images of the three crew members and said they were filming with occasional help of cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitsky, who arrived in orbit in April.
The film tells the story of a doctor, played by Peresild, who is dispatched to the space station to save the life of a dying cosmonaut, according to Russia's TASS news agency.
The film crew arrived on another Soyuz, MS-19, but that will remain docked at the space station for a later return.
Most of the filming occurred in the Russian portion of the space station, but a small part was to be filmed on the U.S. side, including the cupola, which provides a 360-degree panoramic view. The Russian filmmakers were escorted into the U.S. section by American astronauts, NASA said.
Roscosmos announced the Russian film mission after former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted in May last year that they were "excited" to work with American action star Tom Cruise on an unnamed movie to be shot aboard the space station.
Roscosmos says the film is a joint scientific and educational project between Russian state TV Channel One, Roscosmos State Corp. and Yellow, Black, White studio.
The Russian launch occurred amid a push to commercialize space travel with Elon Musk's SpaceX, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic competing in the private space tourism sector.
The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on November 8. Photo courtesy of NASA