Capitalism in space: Japanese tourists billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant Yozo Hirano safely returned to Earth yesterday in their Russian Soyuz capsule after spending 12 days on the Russian half of ISS.
Maezawa’s and Hirano’s flight contracts were negotiated by Space Adventures, the only company to date to fly its clients to the International Space Station. Prior to Soyuz MS-20, Space Adventures organized eight flights for seven self-funded astronauts (one flew twice).
Maezawa, 46, is the CEO of Start Today and founder of ZOZO, an online retail clothing business, which he sold to Yahoo! Japan. In 2018, he paid an undisclosed but substantial amount to SpaceX for a circumlunar flight on the company’s still-in-development Starship spacecraft. Maezawa’s “dearMoon” mission, which will fly him and a crew of artists around the moon, is currently targeted for launch in 2023.
Hirano, 36, managed the photography team at ZOZO and is now a film producer at Start Today. In addition to filming Maezawa during the mission, Hirano also took part in human health and performance research on behalf of the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. The studies included collecting electrocardiogram readings and using a portable auto-refractor device to collect sight data.
The article also notes a minor record set during this tourist flight. On December 11th a total of 19 people were in space, the most ever, though only for a very short time. Ten were on ISS, three were on China’s space station, and then six were launched on a suborbital flight that day by Blue Origin.
The next commercial tourist flight on the schedule is February’s first Axiom flight to ISS, carrying three customers to ISS for eight days.
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