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Russia Approves Flight of Two Japanese Tourists to ISS, Marking Return to Space Tourism

© Photo : Russian Space Agency Roscosmos / Go to the photo bankIn this handout photo released by Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, the Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster with the Fregat upper stage and 36 UK OneWeb communications satellites blasts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Amur region, Russia
In this handout photo released by Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, the Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster with the Fregat upper stage and 36 UK OneWeb communications satellites blasts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Amur region, Russia - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.12.2021
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BAIKONUR (Sputnik) - The Russian state commission has authorised the launch of a Soyuz-2.1a rocket with a Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft, which will carry two Japanese space tourists, Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano, along with famous Russian cosmonaut, Alexander Misurkin, into orbit on Wednesday, Roscosmos said on Tuesday.
"The State Commission has appointed the prime and backup crews of the Soyuz MS-20 manned spacecraft. In addition, the readiness of the Soyuz-2 rocket and ground infrastructure has been confirmed for launch on 8 December", Roscosmos said in a statement.
The launch of the spacecraft with businessman Maezawa, his assistant Hirano, and the professional Russian cosmonaut is scheduled for 10:38 a.m. Moscow time (07:38 a.m. GMT) on Wednesday. Docking with the International Space Station will take place at 16:41 Moscow time (13:41 GMT). The crew is expected to return to Earth on 20 December.
The tourists will participate in a scientific programme on the station, as well as carry out assignments from the list of "100 Things You Want MZ To Do In Space!". Maezawa and Hirano will film everything they do and upload it to YouTube.
ISS astronauts adjust truss above New Zealand - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.10.2021
Soyuz Spacecraft With First Feature Film Crew in Space Returns to Earth
The crew will also bring to the station New Year's gifts for the Russian crew members, props for their missions, as well as dishes from Japanese cuisine adapted for consumption in space.
Maezawa and Hirano will become the first tourists in 12 years to fly to the ISS in a Soyuz spacecraft.
From 2001-2009, Soyuz spacecraft delivered seven tourists to the ISS under contracts with the American space tourism company, Space Adventures. The crew twice included the American entrepreneur Charles Simonyi. According to various sources, the tourists paid $20-40 million for their space flights.
In September, Sergei Kostenko, the head of the Russian office of Space Adventures, said that the flight of Japanese tourists on a Soyuz spacecraft will cost around $50 million.
Today, tourists can also get into space on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft or on the New Shepard by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.
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