A Russian movie actress and a film director have joined the small but growing number of non-astronauts who have traveled to space.
A Soyuz capsule docked with the International Space Station on Tuesday, bringing film director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild, as well as their cosmonaut chaperone Anton Shkaplerov, into orbit alongside seven other astronauts.
Shipenko and Peresild are expected to stay in orbit for 12 days.
Peresild said she was looking forward to seeing months of preparation for the expedition pay off during a news briefing for ISS Expedition 66 on Monday.
"We worked really hard, and we are really tired," the award-winning 37-year-old actor said. "It was psychologically, physically and morally hard. But I think that once we achieve the goal, all that will seem not so difficult and we will remember it with a smile."
"I am proud of being entrusted with such a mission -- to fly without professionals, cosmonauts, astronauts," Shkaplerov added.
The short-duration flyers will film "The Challenge," a fictional film about a doctor who rushes to the International Space Station to save a cosmonaut's life.
According to the New York Times, Russia is attempting to make the first movie in space, and has changed its flight schedule to stay ahead of NASA and SpaceX's plans to support the launch of a Tom Cruise action film into orbit.
The Cruise movie, which was first announced in 2020, has yet to be given a release date.
Beyond their basic training at Roscosmos, neither of the two short-duration flyers has any professional spaceflight experience. The Times said Peresild is well-known in Russia for her roles in movies, art films, television series, and appearances at the Malaya Bronnaya theater in Moscow.
The film is part of a cooperative scientific and educational effort with Channel One, Roscosmos, and a studio called Yellow, Black, and White, according to the official Roscosmos website for "The Challenge."
The film, according to Roscosmos, is a project aimed at demonstrating the growing accessibility of spaceflight to those who aren't professional astronauts hired by national space agencies.
The mission, formally known as Soyuz MS-19, is the latest in a series of non-professional spaceflyer launches that will take place throughout the second half of this year across various space vehicles.