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Russia to Send Japanese Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to ISS

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Russia on Wednesday will ship Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to the International Space Station in a transfer marking Moscow’s return to the now booming house tourism enterprise after a decade-long break.

One of Japan’s richest males, Maezawa, 46, will blast off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan accompanied by his assistant Yozo Hirano.

On Sunday morning, their Soyuz spacecraft with a Japanese flag and an “MZ” emblem for Maezawa’s identify was moved onto the launch pad in unusually moist climate for Baikonur, an AFP journalist noticed.

The mission will finish a decade-long pause in Russia’s house tourism programme that has not accepted vacationers since Canada’s Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberte in 2009.

However, in a historic first, the Russian house company Roscosmos in October sent actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko to the ISS to movie scenes for the primary film in orbit in an effort to beat a rival Hollywood mission.

Maezawa’s launch comes at a difficult time for Russia as its house trade struggles to stay related and sustain with Western rivals within the trendy house race.

Last yr, the US firm SpaceX of billionaire Elon Musk ended Russia’s monopoly on manned flights to the ISS after it delivered astronauts to the orbiting laboratory in its Crew Dragon capsule.

This, nevertheless, additionally freed up seats on Russia’s Soyuz rockets that have been beforehand bought by NASA permitting Moscow to just accept fee-paying vacationers like Maezawa.

Their three-seat Soyuz spacecraft shall be piloted by Alexander Misurkin, a 44-year-old Russian cosmonaut who has already been on two missions to the ISS.

The pair will spend 12 days aboard the house station the place they plan to doc their journey for Maezawa’s YouTube channel with greater than 750,000 subscribers.

The tycoon is the founding father of Japan’s largest on-line vogue mall and the nation’s 30th richest man, in accordance with Forbes.

“I am almost crying because of my impressions, this is so impressive,” Maezawa mentioned in late November after arriving at Baikonur for the ultimate days of preparation.

Maezawa and Hirano have spent the previous few months coaching at Star City, a city exterior Moscow that has ready generations of Soviet and Russian cosmonauts.  

‘Hardest coaching ever’

Maezawa mentioned that coaching within the spinning chair “almost feels like torture”.

“It’s the hardest training ever done,” he tweeted in late November.

So far Russia has despatched seven self-funded vacationers to house in partnership with the US-based firm Space Adventures. Maezawa and Hirano would be the first from Japan.

Maezawa’s launch comes on the finish of a yr that turned a milestone for newbie house journey.

In September, SpaceX operated a historic flight taking the primary all-civilian crew on a three-day journey across the Earth’s orbit in a mission known as Inspiration4.

Blue Origin, the corporate of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, accomplished two missions past the Earth’s environment. The passengers included 90-year-old Star Trek star William Shatner and Bezos himself.

Soon after, billionaire Richard Branson travelled aboard his Virgin Galactic spacecraft that additionally supplied a couple of minutes of weightlessness earlier than coming again to Earth.

Those journeys mark the start of house opening up for non-professionals with extra launches introduced for the long run.

In 2023, SpaceX is planning to take eight newbie astronauts across the moon in a spaceflight that’s bankrolled by Maezawa, who may also be onboard.

Russia has additionally mentioned it’s going to take extra vacationers to the ISS on future Soyuz launches and likewise plans to supply one in every of them a spacewalk.

For Russia, retaining its title of a high house nation is a matter of nationwide delight stemming from its Soviet-era achievements amid rivalry with the United States.

The Soviets coined various firsts in house: the primary satellite tv for pc, first man in house, first lady in house, first spacewalk, to call just some.

But lately Russia’s house programme has suffered setbacks, together with corruption scandals and botched launches, and confronted a reduce in state funding.

The trade stays reliant on Soviet-designed expertise and whereas new initiatives have been introduced, akin to a mission to Venus, their timeline and feasibility stay unclear.


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