Russia chose a 36-year-old patriotic film star to send to space, sparking a race with Tom Cruise to be first to shoot a movie in orbit

Roscosmos_finalists
Yulia Peresild, here on the left, is pictured with two other finalists of an open casting call run by Russia’s space agency for “Vyzov,” a film set to be shot on the international space station in October this year.

  • Russia’s space agency announced the winner of an open contest to send an actor to space.
  • Yulia Peresild is due to take off for the ISS on October 5, the agency said Thursday.
  • Russia could beat a similarly-timed plan by Tom Cruise to shoot the first feature film in space.
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Russia’s space agency announced the winner of an open contest to send an actor to the International Space Station (ISS) this year.

Russia aims to launch the team on October 5, in a bid to be the first feature film shot in space.

Yulia Peresild, a 36-year old actor, is scheduled to launch the same month Tom Cruise is slated to leave for the ISS to shoot a film with director Doug Liman.

Peresild was one of four finalists of an open audition run by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. The announcement that she had won the competition was made on Thursday.

She has appeared in more than 30 movies, including patriotic feature films like “The Battle for Sevastopol,” where she played a young Soviet woman fighting for the Red Army, The Guardian reported.

See the trailer below:

Peresild is due to start special space training – like centrifuge tests and parachute training – no later than June 1, Roscosmos said.

The training will be televised by one of Russia’s leading TV channels, Roscosmos said in a press release.

Two other finalists, Alena Mordovina, 33, and Alexey Dudin, 40, are also taking part in the training, and have been named backup actors for Peresild.

Film director Klim Shipenko and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov are due to accompany Peresild to the ISS. The team is set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on October 5.

The movie, tentatively called “Vyzov” or “the Challenge,” will be a “space drama,” Roscosmos said. Few other details of its content exist.

In May 2020, NASA confirmed that it was working with Tom Cruise and Space X on a project to film the first movie aboard the ISS.

Later reports suggested the Cruise project could launch in October this year, which would give it an overlapping schedule with the Russia project.

The Roscosmos competition, launched last November, was open to professional and non-professional female actors.

Channel 1, the TV station running the contest, said in March it got 3,000 applicants and shortlisted 20 actors to undergo medical, physical, and psychological tests at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Space News reported on April 27.

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Russia threatens to abandon the International Space Station and build its own

ISS The International Space Station as of Oct. 4, 2018
The International Space Station in 2018.

  • Russia could leave the International Space Station as soon as 2025, its deputy prime minister said.
  • Roscosmos, Russia’s NASA equivalent, aims to launch its own space station by 2030.
  • Such a move could end a decades-long relationship in space that survived political strains on Earth.
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Russia could quit the International Space Station to focus on its ambition to launch a space station of its own by 2030, Russian officials said.

Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov raised the prospect of Russia leaving in a Sunday interview with state TV, reported in English by the TASS newswire.

Per TASS, Borisov did not commit to leaving, but noted that Russia’s existing commitment only extends to the end of 2024, and that Russia was not happy with the current condition of the ISS.

Russia has been involved in the ISS, contributing equipment and astronauts, since its launch in 1998. The ISS is the only space station with people on board.

A few days after, on Wednesday, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency spoke of an independent Russian space station being in operation by 2030, according to the Guardian and the Financial Times.

The first module for the Russian space station will be ready by 2025, Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, has said.

The agency is said to be awaiting final approval from President Vladimir Putin to proceed. Reports in Russian media have differed as to how likely this is to come.

In 2020, the ISS celebrated 20 years of continuous human occupation, even though engineers gave it a 15 year life expectancy. The space station is starting to show signs of age, with broken toilets and air leaks.

A Russian cosmonaut who returned to Earth from the Space Station on April 17 said that there is no reason to leave the ISS.

The “station’s condition is quite good,” Sergei Ryzhikov said in an interview.

The continuation of the collaboration after 2024 will hinge on a technical inspection, Rogozin said at a press briefing.

He pushed back on the suggestion that a Russian departure would be abrupt. “We are talking about our gradual exit from this project,” he said on Facebook in reply to a user comment, TASS reported.

If it happens, a Russian departure would be a blow to decades of US-Russia collaboration in space. Russia and the US, along with other partners, have collaborated to keep the space station operational since 1998.

It has been a bastion of international cooperation between the two nations since their collaboration on the Apollo-Soyuz Test project in the 70s.

Separation between the two nations’ space programs has been increasing over the past couple of years.

Earlier this year, Russia signed a deal with China to build a space station on the Moon, after rebuffing NASA’s plan to return to the moon.

Rogozin had previously criticised the US plan as too “US-centric” and a “departure of our American partners from the principles of cooperation and mutual support that developed during cooperation on the ISS,” The Verge reported.

China and Russia also refused to sign the Artemis Accords, a US-drawn agreement that aims to govern the rules of space exploration.

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Video shows the Soyuz spacecraft’s view of Earth minutes after takeoff on its trip to bring 2 Russians and 1 American to the ISS

Souyz view of earth

  • A Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft launched Friday to bring two Russians and one American to the International Space Station.
  • They launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:42 p.m. local time, or 3:42 a.m. ET.
  • They are due to arrive at the ISS around 7:07 a.m. ET.
  • NASA shared a video of its third-stage separation minutes after takeoff, showing its view of Earth. Watch here:
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Earth’s north magnetic pole is on the move – here’s what will happen when our poles flip

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Did you know that Earth has two North Poles? There’s the geographic North Pole, which never changes. And there’s the magnetic North Pole, which is always on the move. And right now it’s moving faster than usual.

Over the past 150 years, the magnetic North Pole has casually wandered 685 miles across northern Canada. But right now it’s racing 25 miles a year to the northwest.

This could be a sign that we’re about to experience something humans have never seen before: a magnetic polar flip. And when this happens, it could affect much more than just your compass.

Alanna Mitchell: Right now on the surface of the planet, it looks like it’s just a bar magnet. Our compasses are just pointing to one pole at a time because there’s a dominant two-pole system.

But sometimes, Earth doesn’t always just have a single magnetic North and South Pole. Evidence suggests that, for hundreds to thousands of years at a time, our planet has had four, six, and even eight poles at a time. This is what has happened when the magnetic poles flipped in the past. And when it happens again, it won’t be good news for humans.

Now you might think, eight poles must be better than two. But the reality is that: Multiple magnetic fields would fight each other. This could weaken Earth’s protective magnetic field by up to 90% during a polar flip.

Earth’s magnetic field is what shields us from harmful space radiation which can damage cells, cause cancer, and fry electronic circuits and electrical grids. With a weaker field in place, some scientists think this could expose planes to higher levels of radiation, making flights less safe.

This could also disrupt the internal compass in many animals who use the magnetic field for navigation. Even more extreme, it could make certain places on the planet too dangerous to live. But what exactly will take place on the surface is less clear than what will undoubtedly happen in space.

Satellites and crewed space missions will need extra shielding that we’ll have to provide ourselves. Without it, intense cosmic and solar radiation will fry circuit boards and increase the risk of cancer in astronauts.

Our modern way of life could cease to exist. We know this because we’re already seeing a glimpse of this in an area called the South Atlantic Anomaly. Turns out, the direction of a portion of the magnetic field deep beneath this area has already flipped! And scientists say that’s one reason why the field has been steadily weakening since 1840.

As a result, the Hubble Space Telescope and other satellites often shut down their sensitive electronics as they pass over the area. And astronauts on the International Space Station reported seeing a higher number of bright flashes of light in their vision, thought to be caused by high-energy cosmic rays that the weaker field can’t hold back.

Since experts started measuring the Anomaly a few decades ago, it has grown in size and now covers a fifth (20.3%) of Earth’s surface, with no signs of shrinking anytime soon. This is so extreme that it could be a sign we’re on the brink of a polar flip, or we may already be in the midst of one!

But scientists remain skeptical, mainly because …

Mitchell: They don’t know. The last time the poles reversed was 780,000 years ago so it’s not like we have a record for this.

Turns out 780,000 years is over double the time Earth usually takes between flips.

Mitchell: In the past 65 million years since the last mass extinction there have been reversals roughly every 300,000 years.

So what gives? Well, scientists haven’t figured it out yet. It’s unnerving to think that our modern way of life – banking, the stock exchange, missile tracking, GPS – relies on the outcome of something we can neither predict, nor control. One study went so far as to estimate that a single, giant solar storm today could cost the US up to $41.5 billion a day in damages.

And that’s with Earth’s magnetic field at its current strength. It’s frightening to imagine the devastation a storm would bring to an Earth with a magnetic field only 10% as strong.

We may not be able to stop a polar flip, but we can at least start to take measures to minimize the damage. The first step? Figure out what’s going on with this whacky field.

On the hunt are the European Space Agency’s SWARM satellites, which are collecting the most precise data on the strength of Earth’s magnetic field. Right now, they could be our greatest hope for solving this riddle.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published on April 9, 2018.

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Zero-gravity cookies and Santa space suits: Here’s what it’s like to spend Christmas on the International Space Station

ISS Christmas 2005
Christmas on the ISS can get pretty festive – especially in zero gravity.

  • There are often astronauts in the International Space Station over Christmas, and this year is no exception.
  • Despite being posted to a cramped space station, they still manage to celebrate Christmas with most of the traditional trappings.
  • That means Santa space suits
  • If they’re lucky they get the day off as well.
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No one likes spending Christmas at work – but sometimes there’s just no getting out of it. For example, if you are stationed in orbit 250 miles above the planet.

But despite being as far away as it’s humanly possible to get from Earth – where Christmas was invented – astronauts aboard the International Space Station manage to keep their workplace pretty festive. They festoon the station with decorations, put up Christmas trees, open presents, and even get Christmas dinner.

The crew currently aboard the ISS shared a holiday video with the world on December 22. The astronauts, four of whom arrived in November aboard the SpaceX spacecraft “Resilience,” said they’d named the craft after the people who helped get them up there in a year of unprecedented challenges.

“There couldn’t be a more fitting name to describe 2020, the resilience of the human spirit is something we can truly celebrate in this special season,” NASA astronaut Victor Glover said.

Here are some amazing moments from the many Christmases which have been celebrated aboard the ISS.

Of course to have a real Christmas you need a Christmas tree.

ISS Christmas 2015
A Christmas tree watches the Earth from space.

Astronauts may not be able to pick their own real fir tree, but for years they’ve been bringing up fake ones and adorning them with tinsel and decorations.

Over the decades astronauts have sometimes had to improvise.

ISS Christmas 1973
A Christmas tree made out of food packaging.

This Christmas tree is fashioned from empty food containers, and was made by three astronauts aboard the ISS on the Skylab 4 mission in 1973.

For years astronauts have been decorating Christmas cookies in zero-gravity.

ISS Christmas 2008 cookies
Astronauts Michael Fincke and Sandra Magnus in 2008.

In November this year a specially designed “space oven” was shipped to the astronauts on the ISS to experiment on the impact intense heat and zero-gravity would have on baking cookies, however NASA confirmed that the astronauts will only be baking five experimental cookies in this oven and will not eat them.

The astronauts get Christmas dinner.

NASA preparing Christmas dinner
Sandra Magnus prepares Christmas dinner.

It’s impossible to prepare a full roast meal on the ISS, but astronauts still get an approximation of a Christmas dinner.

For Christmas 2018 crew members got a meal of smoked turkey, candied yams, corn, green beans, mac and cheese, and potatoes au gratin. This was followed by dessert options of strawberries, bread pudding, butter cookies, and shortbread cookies.

This feast was shipped up to the astronauts a few weeks ahead of Christmas aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

A NASA spokesperson sent Business Insider a list of what’s on the menu for the ISS crew this Christmas.

Herb and Citrus Butter Roasted Whole Butterball Turkey
A roasted butterball turkey (not pictured: the turkey which the astronauts will be receiving this year).

The main course for the astronauts’ Christmas meal includes:

  • Roasted Turkey
  • Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Potatoes Au Gratin
  • Southwestern Corn
  • Spicy Green Beans
  • Cornbread Dressing
  • Wheat Flat Bread

And for dessert…

  • Cherry Blueberry Cobbler
  • Cranapple Dessert
  • Shortbread Cookies
  • Sparkle Gel
  • French Vanilla Cappuccino

The astronauts’ Christmas meal was shipped up to them aboard the SpaceX CRS-21 spacecraft on December 6 (along with some meteorite samples and live mice).

Last year the astronauts were sent gingerbread men, some of which ended up floating around in zero gravity.

ISS christmas 2019 gingerbread man
Astronauts celebrate Christmas 2019 aboard the ISS.

Stockings have also become a regular feature – although the lack of gravity means they don’t necessarily hang the way they usually do.

ISS Christmas 2017
This picture of astronaut Mark Vande Hei was taken on Christmas Eve 2017.

On Christmas morning astronauts emerge from their sleeping quarters to find their stockings and presents just like on Earth.

ISS Christmas 2010 Christmas morning
Christmas morning 2010 on the ISS. From left to right: European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman.

Presents from the astronauts’ families are shipped up to the ISS ahead of Christmas day. Their families have to be organized, sometimes sending presents up as early as November to coincide with cargo ships travelling to the station with new supplies and science experiments.

This year’s batch of Christmas presents and food was brought up by another SpaceX Dragon ship on December 8.

It’s not just their families that give them gifts – the astronauts also get presents for each other.

In 2014 US astronaut Terry Virts tweeted that he’d got a harmonica from Russian cosmonaut Elena Sorova.

 

Santa Claus hats are another staple, as exemplified in this photo of astronaut Scott Kelly (2010).

ISS Christmas 2010

This picture from Christmas 2011 shows that elf hats are also permitted.

ISS Christmas 2011
The upside-down elf is Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov.

And of course decorations are a must, as proven by this photo taken in the run-up to Christmas aboard the Russian segment of the ISS in 2012.

ISS Christmas decorations 2012

The decorations can get pretty space-specific.

ISS Christmas 2008
Sandra Magnus floats between two Santa-hatted space suits.

Stuffing empty space suits and putting hats on them appears to have caught on, in 2014 US astronaut astronaut Terry Virts shared this picture.

ISS Christmas 2014

Virts and his team also left some “powdered milk and freeze dried cookies” for Santa according to ABC — although without a chimney, they had to settle for leaving them by the airlock.

 

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is famous for his orbital musical renditions, and Christmas is no exception.

ISS Christmas Chris Hadfield 2012

This photo was taken on Christmas day 2012, and according to NASA Hadfield later joined the rest of the crew for an “assortment of Christmas carols.”

Sometimes astronauts get the day off, but not always.

In 2018 two out of the three crew members got the whole day off, while a third had to carry out a few odd jobs. “The only tasks on their schedule for Xmas besides meals and exercise are some blood and saliva sample draws for human research studies,” a spokesperson told Space.com.

Sometimes the astronauts have more serious Christmas duties to attend to. On Christmas Eve 2013 NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio ventured outside the ISS on a space walk to fix a broken cooling system.

This year NASA confirmed to Business Insider the astronauts onboard will get to take Christmas day off work.

Even though the ISS might lack a few home comforts, being in space is a pretty unique way to spend the holiday.

Astronaut Anne McClain shared what it feels like to look down on the Earth at Christmas time during her stay on the station in 2018.

And in 2014 Terry Virts tweeted a video of what he called the ISS’ version of Christmas lights.

 

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