Saturday, January 22

Russia returns to space tourism by launching a Japanese millionaire to the ISS

It is the first space tourist in 12 years, as Russia had lost ground in this lucrative sector.


a japanese millionaire took off on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, aboard a Russian spacecraft to begin a 12-day stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS), a journey that marks Moscow’s return to space tourism.

The eccentric Yusaku MaezawaThe 46-year-old internet fashion mogul and his assistant Yozo Hirano took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at the scheduled time. The expected duration of the flight is six hours and the docking to the Poisk module of the Russian segment of the ISS should take place at 13:41 (GMT).

Many planned activities

At dawn, the millionaire, his assistant and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, who will pilot the Soyuz spacecraft, left their hotel to the sound of a traditional Soviet song that is usually played for all cosmonauts before takeoff.

“Dreams come true,” the Japanese millionaire tweeted before leaving. “I am as excited as a child before a field trip with the school,” Maezawa said during a press conference on the eve of takeoff.

The cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin He explained that his classmates will have a loaded program. Among the planned activities there is a “friendly” badminton tournament. The millionaire has set himself 100 tasks to accomplish in space and plans to document his stay with videos posted on his YouTube channel.

Before the mission, Maezawa and his assistant were preparing in the City of Stars, a city built near Moscow in the 1960s to train cosmonauts. There are currently seven people on board the ISS, including two Russians and one Japanese.

Japanese millionaire Yusaku Maezawa, ready for his adventure. (Photo: SHAMIL ZHUMATOV / POOL / AFP)

Film shooting on the ISS

After a decade of interruption, this Wednesday’s flight marks the return to this sector of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, although the country’s aerospace industry is undermined by corruption and technical and financial difficulties.

In 2020, with the commissioning of SpaceX capsules, Russia lost its monopoly on manned flights to the ISS and the tens of millions of dollars that NASA and other agencies paid it for each seat aboard a Soyuz.

The mission with the two Japanese is organized by Roscosmos and its American partner Space Adventures. Between 2001 and 2009, these two companies had already sent wealthy entrepreneurs into space eight times.

A sign of the willingness of the Russian space sector to renew itself, Roscosmos sent a director and an actress to the ISS in October to shoot the first feature film in orbit in history, anticipating a project by American actor Tom Cruise.

With information from DW.

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