Russian production outfit Sokol and the US' VIDEFCO are set to start shooting the first feature to be filmed in space on the Russian space station Mir in April.

The $70m The Final Journey will be directed by Russian director Yuri Kara from a script based on Chingiz Aitmatov's novel The Mark of Cassandra. The UK's John Daly is set to produce.

Russian actor Vladimir Steklov has been training at the cosmonaut centre Star City for the last six months. He will take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at the end of the month and stay in space from 45 to 180 days. Two real cosmonauts will act as cameramen on board Mir while Kara will direct from mission control.

The story is about the last cosmonaut on the ailing space station Mir who refuses to return to earth. Instead he stays in space transmitting messages begging for world peace. The Russians decide to send a female cosmonaut into space to lure him down. The film will also shoot in Mexico, France, Italy and the US. The female lead has yet to be cast.

The producers are still seeking additional funding for the project but the payment for Steklov's space flight has already been made and take off is set for March 31.