Russian film team boldly shoot towards space station

Russia has taken the lead in a space race with a difference, sending a team to the International Space Station to shoot a feature film ahead of an American crew.

Yulia Peresild, 37, is set to star in the film, directed by Klim Shipenko.

Their Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft took off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, and three hours later docked with the International Space Station.

US actor Tom Cruise and Nasa have also been planning to make a film there.

There was more than a touch of show business glamour when the Soyuz crew launched on Tuesday, as the TV cameras focused on Peresild and her 12-year-old daughter Anna, who was watching from a safe distance.

It was from the Kazakh steppes where camels and susliks (ground squirrels) roam, rather than in the studios of Hollywood, that real actors went into space, said Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda website. Shipenko’s actress wife Sofia Karpunina noted that the director had had to shed 15kg (33lbs) beforehand.

The launch, led by cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, went according to plan at 11:55 Moscow time (08:55 GMT). “The crew is feeling well,” said the commander shortly after take-off.

The Soyuz docked with the ISS a little over three hours afterwards. However, it was a little later than planned as the Soyuz’s automatic Kurs docking system failed and the commander had to switch to manual control.

Shkaplerov would normally have had the help of a flight engineer but his two colleagues would have been unable to help him, despite their fast-track flight training.

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