Two space tourists from Japan are about to head to the International Space Station (ISS) for an 11-day stay.
Billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who made his money in online fashion retail, is believed to have paid tens of millions of dollars for the trip. He will be taking with him video producer Yozo Hirano, who will be documenting the experience. Also traveling aboard the Russian Soyuz capsule will be veteran cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.
The trio will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday night U.S time, with docking at the ISS expected to take place about six hours later.
Maezawa and Hirano have been training for the mission since June, with Maezawa using Twitter to report on his preparations.
The trip, organized by Roscosmos (Russia’s space agency) and Virginia-based Space Adventures, comes just a few months after the ISS hosted two other amateur astronauts, Russian filmmaker Yulia Peresild and producer Klim Shipenko. With Shipenko filming and Peresild acting, the pair shot scenes for a movie called Challenge.
In early 2022, the ISS will host another three space tourists in a mission that will launch from U.S. soil using SpaceX hardware.
This week’s launch will take place at 11:38 p.m. PT on Tuesday, December 7 (2:38 a.m. ET on Wednesday/12:38 p.m. Baikonur time on Wednesday).
Following a six-hour journey, the Soyuz spacecraft will dock with the space station’s Poisk module at 5:41 a.m. PT (8:41 a.m. ET). About two hours after docking, Maezawa, Hirano, and Misurkin will make their way into the ISS, where they’ll meet the other seven crewmembers.
NASA will livestream the launch and docking. You can watch the coverage on the video player embedded at the top of this page or by heading to NASA’s website.
Coverage will start at 11 p.m. PT Tuesday (2 a.m. ET Wednesday), 38 minutes before launch.
For the docking, coverage will start at 5 a.m. PT Wednesday (8 a.m. ET Wednesday), 41 minutes before the Soyuz spacecraft arrives at the orbiting outpost.
Footage of the hatch opening and welcoming ceremony will start at 7:15 a.m. PT Wednesday (10:15 a.m. ET Wednesday).
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