The head of NASA confirmed Tuesday that the space agency is working with actor Tom Cruise to make a movie on the International Space Station. A NASA spokesperson also confirmed that Cruise will launch into space and stay aboard the station, a multibillion-dollar laboratory that orbits about 250 miles above Earth.
Rotating crews of astronauts have lived aboard the ISS continuously since 2000, and a few high-paying tourists have stopped by the station over the years. At one point, pop star Lance Bass, of 'NSYNC boyband fame, planned a visit in the early 2000s, though that trip did not pan out.
A few films have been shot on board the space station, including a 2002 IMAX documentary that Cruise narrated. 2012's "Apogee of Fear," a science fiction film, was also filmed in space by entrepreneur and space tourist Richard Garriott, the son of an astronaut.
But Cruise could be the first actor to endure extraterrestrial travel.
"We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA's ambitious plans a reality," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a tweet Tuesday.
Russia is the only country with the ability to fly humans to and from the space station, but SpaceX and Boeing have been working for years to develop spacecraft capable of returning that capability to the United States. SpaceX's vehicle, Crew Dragon, is expected to complete its first crewed mission to the ISS later this month.
Unlike the human spaceflight programs of earlier decades, however, NASA will not own and operate SpaceX's or Boeing's vehicles. Both companies will be permitted to sell seats aboard their spacecraft to tourists or others willing to pay the multimillion price tag.