Onboard were cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, and two passengers: filmmaker Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild. Shipenko and Peresild aren’t trained astronauts, but they are professionals going to space to do their Earth jobs. They are the first commercial film crew to film a movie in space. Because there is only one fully-fledged cosmonaut aboard, both on the way up and the way back, the capsule was modified to facilitate its operation by just one person.
After a textbook launch into the sunny central Asian skies, the capsule took just two orbits to catch up to the ISS. The capsule was scheduled to dock with the station’s Rassvet Module at 12:12 UTC, but there was a brief delay due to a communications issue between the Soyuz and the KURS automated docking system. Shkaplerov took over manual control with about 70 meters to go, and the docking was completed with no other issues at 12:22 UTC. The total trip time was 3 hours and 27 minutes, which is 24 minutes shy of the Guinness World record set almost exactly a year ago by the MS-17 mission.
Shipenko and Peresild will spend 12 days in space filming their movie, called “Challenge”, which is billed as the first feature film shot in space. They will return to Earth on October 18 onboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft with cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky. Soyuz spacecraft are only rated for 180 days in space attached to a space station, but they can remain in space for 210 days in case of an emergency. MS-18 will return to Earth after spending 192 days in space – exceeding the 180-day limit by a few days but still within the maximum limit.
The MS-19 spacecraft will return with astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov in March 2022 after the pair will have spent a total of 355 days in space. This will be the longest spaceflight by a NASA astronaut, Dubrov’s first flight, and the fourth-longest human spaceflight overall.
NASA press release
Roscosmos press release (Russian)