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

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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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China is set to launch the first piece of its new space station on Wednesday night

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The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the core module of China’s space station Tianhe, at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, April 23, 2021.

  • China is set to launch the first module of its new space station as early as Wednesday night.
  • China plans to complete its space station with 11 launches, some involving astronaut crews, by 2022.
  • The rocket launch may be broadcast live in Mandarin and English.
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China is planning to build its own space station, and it’s set to launch the first module as early as Wednesday night.

This core module, called Tianhe, or “Heavenly Harmony,” is currently tucked inside the nosecone of a Long March 5B rocket at the Wenchang Launch Center on the island of Hainan. The rocket is “designed specifically for launching space-station modules,” according to Andrew Jones, a reporter covering China’s space program.

The rocket is scheduled to lift off during a one-hour window starting at 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday – which is noon on Thursday in China.

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A Long March-5B Y2 rocket carrying the core module of China’s space station, at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on April 23, 2021.

This will be the Long March 5b’s second launch – its first was a test launch of a spaceship prototype.

US policy has effectively blocked China from sending astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and forbidden NASA from working with the nation.

China first started its independent human-spaceflight program in 1992. Three decades later, it’s beginning to build its own Earth-orbiting habitat. The country aims to complete the Chinese Space Station (CSS) by the end of 2022. Between now and then, it plans to launch 11 missions to carry three modules (including Tianhe), four cargo shipments, and four astronaut crews, according to The Associated Press.

The complete space station is set to weigh 66 tons, with enough room for three astronauts to live inside the Tianhe module. At least 12 Chinese astronauts are currently training for CSS stints, according to the AP.

The spacecraft for the first astronaut mission to the CSS is already being assembled, and the crew could launch as early as June, Jones reported for Space.com.

The overall plan for CSS calls for it to be significantly smaller than the International Space Station (ISS), which weighs about 450 tons and is roughly the length of a football field. As many as 13 people have been on the ISS at one time during mission overlaps.

Watch the Tianhe module launch live

State-controlled broadcaster CCTV may air the launch live with commentary in Mandarin. The China Global Television Network could also broadcast the launch in English on its Youtube channel, according to Jones.

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The Long March 5 Y-4 rocket, carrying the Tianwen-1 mission to Mars, takes off from China’s Wenchang Space Launch Center, July 23, 2020.

This wouldn’t be China’s first space station. It previously sent two experimental modules into orbit: The first, Tiangong-1, launched in 2011, and its successor, Tiangong-2, followed in 2016. The two space-station prototypes hosted a handful of Chinese astronauts before Tiangong-1 was abandoned, lost its orbit, then broke apart and burned up in Earth’s atmosphere in 2018. A year later, China steered Tiangong-2 into the atmosphere to meet a similar fate.

A new space race

Russia has begun work on its own space station as well. Russian officials said last week that the country’s space agency aims to launch its core station module in 2025, and might eventually withdraw from the ISS.

Together, Russia and China are also co-developing a lunar research station, independent of NASA’s plans to build a lunar Gateway station. Both projects aim to establish a permanent human presence on the moon.

Meanwhile, on Mars, China is preparing to land a rover in a water-rich region of the red planet. The mission, called Tianwen-1, would be the first to deliver an orbiter, a lander, and a rover all together. All three robots reached Mars’ orbit in February and have been circling the planet since then. The lander and rover are poised to descend to its surface sometime in May.

If that mission succeeds, China will become the second country to successfully land on Mars.

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Watch 2 Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut return from their visit to the International Space Station

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ISS crew member Sergey Kud-Sverchkov lands with the Soyuz MS-17 space capsule in a remote area outside Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on April 17, 2021.

  • Two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut have returned from the International Space Station.
  • Their six-month trip was marked by scientific experiments and crossovers with other astronaut crews.
  • Watch NASA’s footage of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft touching down on Saturday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A six-month journey on board the International Space Station has come to a close for two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut: The three crew members returned safely to Earth amid clear skies at nearly 1:00 a.m. ET on Saturday.

The crew departed for the space station on October 14, 2020, inside a Russian spacecraft called Soyuz MS-17. Their landing marked the end of Expedition 64, or the 64th long-duration expedition to the ISS.

In total, the crew completed around 2,960 orbits of Earth.

The flight home lasted less than three and a half hours, with the spacecraft touching down just outside the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. NASA captured footage of the crew’s smooth descent (starting at around one hour and 14 minutes into the video below):

As soon as the crew landed, Russian search and rescue teams rushed to help them exit. The crew’s commander, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov, was first out of the spacecraft, followed by the two flight engineers: NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

From there, the crew underwent medical checks while seated in chairs so they could re-acclimate to Earth’s climate. They were also able to call friends and family.

Rubins is now set to fly home to Houston, Texas. Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will return to their homes in Star City, Russia.

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ISS crew member Kathleen Rubins of NASA poses for a picture upon her return.

Soyuz MS-17’s departure will make room for new astronauts on the ISS

Expedition 64 marked the first time on board the ISS for Kud-Sverchkov, but the second time for Rubins and Ryzhikov.

Rubins, a microbiologist, became the first person to sequence DNA in space in 2016. She continued her DNA sequencing work during this latest mission, with the ultimate goal of helping astronauts diagnose illnesses in space or identify microbes at the space station to see if they pose any health concerns.

Rubins also completed two spacewalks, grew radishes in orbit, and snapped photos of Hurricane Zeta as it neared Louisiana. To top it off, she studied how changes in gravity affect cardiovascular cells – research that could provide clues about heart problems on Earth.

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The ISS crew after landing outside Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov also conducted hundreds of scientific experiments on board the space station.

The crew had some company as well: NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts joined them in November and will stay until late April. That team consists of three NASA astronauts -commander Mike Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker – as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

Walker is now the station commander of Expedition 65, which began Friday.

Another Russian spacecraft, Soyuz MS-18, arrived at the ISS on April 9 with two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut on board.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 is set to take off for the space station next Thursday, April 22, bringing the total number of people on board to 11. At most, the ISS has held 13 people at once.

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