NASA is indeed working with actor Tom Cruise on a film to be shot in space — aboard the International Space Station (ISS), it turns out. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed the news, which was detailed in an earlier report, via a tweet today. The ISS setting is a new detail to the plan, which was first reported by Deadline, and which also named SpaceX as a potential partner on the film project, which is said to be in an early preparatory phase.
NASA has previously talked about how it would like to open the ISS to more commercial ventures, and offering it as a filming location is definitely one way to do that. Bridenstine notes that including scientific endeavors like the floating orbital platform in popular media serves as a way “to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists” that can help the agency achieve its goals.
SpaceX will presumably take part as Cruise rides to the ISS (assuming the actor is actually going to be the one heading there to film on site, but I have a hard time imagining Cruise would pass that up). The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is set for a final demonstration mission later this month to establish its ability to carry humans to and from the ISS with a crew launch of two NASA astronauts.
NASA and SpaceX have planned to make part of the Crew Dragon’s passenger capacity available to commercial entities. The spacecraft can carry up to seven passengers, but NASA will only ever book four of those seats, according to the agency’s plans. The idea is that commercial bookings can help the agency offset the cost of launches further still.
Paying for an actor (or two?) and a film crew to take a trip to the ISS will definitely help with sharing the cost of gas for the ride. No word yet on when this will actually take place, or how set in stone the plans are, however. SpaceX has previously announced that it will be offering private tourist flights aboard Crew Dragon, with the current plan to start those either late next year, or in 2022.