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Russian director and movie star return to Earth from film shoot in space

The film titled Challenge is set to be the first full-length feature partially shot in orbit.

Yulia Peresild and Anton Shkaplerov
ISS Expedition 66 crew member Yulia Peresild and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov at a news conference on the upcoming space mission. 
Sergei Savostyanov/TASS via Getty Images

It's a wrap on the most far-flung on-location film shoot ever. Russian director Klim Shipenko and actor Yulia Peresild returned to Earth late Saturday night, Pacific Time, after 12 days shooting scenes aboard the International Space Station for an upcoming movie.

The mission was the latest to see high-profile civilians visit space. Billionaires Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Jared Isaacman have all taken the trip. And Star Trek actor William Shatner took his own transformative flight with Bezos' Blue Origin last Wednesday while the Russian movie star and filmmaker were flying even higher in orbit. 

On Oct. 5, a Soyuz capsule carrying the pair with their cosmonaut chaperone Anton Shkaplerov docked with the ISS to begin the 12-day stay. Shkaplerov also plays the character of a cosmonaut in the film, which is called Challenge and will continue to shoot remaining scenes on Earth. Its release date has not yet been set. 

"I'm feeling a bit sad today," Peresild said on Russian state television shortly before leaving the ISS. "It seemed that 12 days would be a lot, but I did not want to leave when everything was over."

While it looks to be the first space-filmed footage to end up in a feature-length movie, it won't be the first shot on the ISS: Video game developer and entrepreneur Richard Garriott filmed a sci-fi short during his stay as a passenger, having paid his own way to orbit in 2008. 

The Russian flick may also help inform how a space-based project involving NASA, SpaceX and Tom Cruise eventually plays out. 

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Peresild and Shipenko, who has some of the most popular Russian films ever in his portfolio, landed in a Soyuz capsule on the steppes of Kazakhstan at 9:35 p.m. PT Saturday. They were joined by cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, who is returning from his rotation on the ISS.

Shkaplerov will remain on board for a full expedition, likely for about six months.