Three folks simply arrived on the International Space Station — and two of them are space vacationers.
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, video producer Yozo Hirano and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin made contact with the orbiting lab Wednesday (Dec. 8) at 8:40 a.m. EST (1340 GMT).
The trio left Earth simply six hours earlier, launching atop a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday at 2:38 a.m. EST (1738 GMT).
The hatches between the International Space Station and the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft are scheduled to open at 10:35 a.m. EST (1535 GMT) on Wednesday. You can watch that second, which can permit the trio to depart the Soyuz to affix the remainder of the crew aboard the station, right here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, or directly via the space agency. Coverage is ready to start at 10:15 a.m. EST (1515 GMT).
Photos: The first space tourists
The mission of Maezawa, Hirano and Misurkin was organized by the Virginia firm Space Adventures, which beforehand helped to ship seven paying clients on eight journeys to the space station. (One of these folks flew twice.) But it had been some time; the newest of these Space Adventures flights launched in 2009.
Maezawa, the CEO of Start Today and the founding father of on-line clothes retailer ZOZO, purchased the seats for himself and Hirano, who will doc the 12-day mission and take part in some health and performance research. Veteran cosmonaut Misurkin, the mission commander, will present the newbies the ropes.
The trio are scheduled to come back again right down to Earth on Sunday (Dec. 19). After touchdown, Maezawa will presumably start considering forward to his subsequent spaceflight, which can take him a lot farther afield. The billionaire has booked a round-the-moon journey on SpaceX’s enormous Starship automobile, with liftoff tentatively focused for 2023.
Two different newbie spaceflyers lived aboard the space station not too long ago as properly. Russian movie director Klim Shipenko and actor Yulia Peresild visited the orbiting lab for 12 days in October, to movie elements of a film known as “The Challenge.” Their journey was not organized by Space Adventures.
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e book concerning the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.