Soyuz MS-20 with space tourists went to the ISS

(ORDO NEWS) — The Japanese billionaire took a few days to the International Space Station to experience life in space before flying to the moon.

Yusaku Maezawa, who previously booked a flight to the moon with SpaceX, flew with his production assistant Yodzo Hirano and veteran Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft on Wednesday (December 8). The launch took place at 10:38 Moscow time or 12:38 local time on a Soyuz 2.1 a rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The flight marked the first space tourist flight to the station since 2009 and the first launch of two tourists on the Soyuz.

The three crew members of the Soyuz MS-20 are due to arrive at the space station at approximately 4:41 pm Moscow time on Wednesday after their spacecraft makes a rendezvous in a four-orbit pattern. The ship will automatically dock with the Search module.

Maezawa, Hirano and Misurkin will spend 12 days at the space station, where they will join Expedition 66 commander Anton Shkaplerov and Roscosmos cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov; NASA astronauts Mark Vanda Hay, Rad Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron; and astronaut Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Japanese e-commerce entrepreneur Maezawa will share his space station experience on his YouTube channel. He has a list of 100 things to do in space, as suggested by subscribers, which range from “the farthest flight of a paper plane” and “dance at Tik Tok” to “returning air” from the International Space Station.

“I didn’t think I could go into space,” Maezawa said at a pre-launch press conference. “I feel happy that I have this opportunity and I finally made my dream come true.”

In addition to filming Maezawa, Hirano will also participate in human health research on behalf of Baylor College of Medicine. Research will include collecting electrocardiogram (ECG) readings, participating in a series of cognitive tests, and using a portable auto-refractor to collect vision data.

“I am delighted to be taking part in this study as it will help scientists reduce the health risks to future space explorers,” Hirano said in a statement.

Misurkin will serve as a guide for Maezawa and Hirano during the mission and will become the first correspondent for the Russian news agency TASS to work in space. In accordance with the agreement with Roscosmos, Misurkin will create a TASS information bureau at the station and will submit daily reports on the crew’s activities. His articles, photos and videos will be posted on the news agency’s website and social media accounts.

On Sunday (December 19), Misurkin, Maezawa and Hirano will return to Earth on the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft, completing the mission by landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan.

Maezawa and Hirano are the first private Japanese citizens to fly into space since TV journalist Tashiro Akiyama spent nearly eight days on the former Russian space station Mir in 1990.

The 44-year-old Misurkin is now on his third space flight, having previously served on the 35/36 and 53/54 expeditions on the space station. Before the launch on the Soyuz MS-20, Misurkin had already spent 334 days in space.

Soyuz MS-20 is the 66th Russian Soyuz, launched to the International Space Station since 2000, and the 149th, which has flown since 1967.

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