When I began creating this website in 2006, I wasn’t intending to include film studios. Then when it became clear that a great deal of television drama was being made in film studios I added them – at first the ones around London, then those around the rest of the UK. At no point was I expecting to be adding a film studio that was in space… but, guess what?
In January 2022 UK-based company Space Entertainment Enterprises announced that it was planning to construct the first purpose-built film studio in space. It will be part of the Axiom space station, which will at first be docked onto the International Space Station, then will separate and orbit on its own in 2028. The ‘studio’ will represent about 1/5 of the completed Axiom Station.
The studio module will be spherical and will be used for the creation of films, television, music and (it says here) sports events! I’d like to see weightless snooker. You might expect this module to be relatively large, with all these activities planned to be carried out in it but it will in fact only be 6 metres in diameter. That’s just under 20 feet. Strikes me that once you have built a set and got 2 or 3 actors inside it, there won’t be a lot of room for much of a crew, let alone a lighting rig – but I’m sure they will have thought of that. (I wonder how the set will be transported and constructed?)
Of course, the only way of filming in weightless conditions at present is by using the ‘Vomit Comet’ – a modified airliner owned by NASA that flies a parabolic course and provides about 25 seconds of weightless conditions, followed by a period of extra g-force when it climbs out of its dive. The film Apollo 13 used this technique to film a few weightless sequences.
Several films like Gravity and Ad Astra have relied on CGI to film weightless scenes but this ‘studio’ will enable the real thing to be filmed in long takes, unlike the restricted time available in the Vomit Comet. The costs involved in filming in this facility have not yet been revealed but one assumes they will have to be comparable to the cost of using CGI, or at least enable sequences to be filmed that would be impossible any other way.
The first film to use SEE-1 will be a space epic starring Tom Cruise in 2024.