Japanese private astronauts are launched to the ISS (International Space Station) on Soyuz

A Soyuz spacecraft launched on December 8 transporting two Japanese private astronauts as well as a Roscosmos cosmonaut on Space Adventures’ first voyage in over a decade. At 2:38 a.m. Eastern, a Soyuz-2.1a rocket launched from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, launching the Soyuz MS-20 into orbit 9 minutes later. At 8:40 a.m. Eastern, the spacecraft docked with the International Space Station’s Poisk module.

Alexander Misurkin, a Roscosmos cosmonaut, is in command of the Soyuz spacecraft, which also has 2 private astronauts on board. The billionaire owner of fashion company Zozo, Yusaku Maezawa, or “MZ,” is one of them. Yozo Hirano, the other, is joining Maezawa as the production assistant to shoot videos that Maezawa will eventually upload to the internet.

For months building up to the flight, Maezawa has been recording his training on the internet. “It’s starting to sink in that we’re flying soon,” he wrote six days before launch in a tweet that included a clip of him as well as his fellow crew members inspecting the interior of the Soyuz spaceship for the last time before launch.

Hirano will conduct biomedical research for Baylor College of Medicine’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH), in addition to documenting Maezawa’s activities on the station. He’ll gather information on the consequences of spaceflight on human body, particularly microgravity.

“Private spaceflight participants play a vital role in space medicine since their health profiles are typically different from that of professional astronauts,” said Tom Shelley, who is the president of Space Adventures. “Through our collaboration with space medicine professionals, we are enabling people with modest health issues to launch into space, advancing our collective understanding of how the body responds to gravity forces and weightlessness.”

Maezawa and Hirono will largely be seen on the station’s Russian channel. During a November 29 briefing, Dana Weigel, who works as the NASA’s deputy ISS program manager, said, “On the US segment, there is virtually little activity scheduled.” They’ll get “some limited access” to laptops for the internet access in the US part, as well as a brief visit to the cupola for filming. “That’s really the only thing we’ve got planned.” Of all, the crew on board has the freedom to invite additional crew members to their sector.”

Maezawa was most known in the space business before this voyage for his declaration in the year 2018 that he would buy a flight on SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft, then named as BFR, for a trip around the moon. Maezawa stated that he will take a bunch of artists on the “dearMoon” flight, which was scheduled to occur in 2023 at the time.

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