Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Russia’s Soyuz, before launching aboard SpaceX’s Starship. Maezawa is SpaceX's first Starship customer, he purchased all seats aboard the first journey around the Moon that is scheduled to occur sometime in 2023. The spacecraft is still under development. While he waits for his moon trip, he purchased a 12-day space tour to the Space Station from U.S. company Space Adventures that booked a spaceflight from Roscosmos. Today, December 8, Maezawa’s dream of seeing Earth from space came true when he lifted off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket at 2:38 a.m. EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Russian Soyuz Rocket | Source: NASA TV Broadcast
Maezawa invited video producer Yozo Hirano along for the ride; he will film his space adventure. “I am excited to share every aspect of my journey with everyone on Earth,” Maezawa stated before the launch. They were accompanied aboard the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft by professional Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. They arrived to the Space Station after a 6-hour-long trip. The Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft docked at 8:40 a.m. EST while ISS was traveling 260-miles over the Atlantic Ocean.
The trio where welcomed by ISS Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos, as well as NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, and SpaceX’s Crew-3 NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, who are working aboard the orbiting laboratory. Maezawa will return with Hirano and Misurkin on Sunday, December 19. They will undock Soyuz MS-20 from the Poisk module to conduct a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan at 10:18 p.m. EST. Roscosmos representatives shared that the crew has fun activities planned to enjoy the microgravity environment. "During his short-term expedition, Alexander Misurkin will not only conduct 9 scientific experiments, but also host an international badminton tournament, which will be attended by both professional cosmonauts and astronauts on the ISS, as well as space tourists from Japan," they stated.
In such an international team the Japanese tourists and their commander, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will stay onboard the International Space Station until December 20. pic.twitter.com/0bQCVHwUb2— РОСКОСМОС (@roscosmos) December 8, 2021
Space Adventures did not disclose how much Maezawa paid for the private spaceflight. Historically, seven self-funded individuals have visited the Space Station and Maezawa will be the eighth and the first civilian from Japan. Those space tourists reportedly paid over $25 million to visit the Space Station through missions managed by Space Adventures. Maezawa, became a billionaire through an online fashion retail business called ‘Zozotown’, which is popular in Japan. He resigned from his CEO position at Zozotown in 2019 after selling a majority stake if the company to SoftBank in order to focus on space ventures. He plans to transform his future spaceflight aboard SpaceX’s Starship into an art project to inspire the world called 'Dear Moon'. If the spaceflight take place in 2023, Maezawa and his crew would make history as the first humans to return to lunar orbit in half a century.
Featured Image Source: NASA & Roscosmos