Safe Return of the Japanese Billionaire and the crew

After nearly 12 days in space recording and distributing videos online about their experience, a Japanese millionaire and his production assistant have safely returned to Earth.

Yusaku Maezawa, an online fashion retailer, and his cameraman, Yozo Hirano, arrived with cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin on December 19th. The three crew members landed on the Kazakhstani steppe southeast of Dzhezkazgan around 10:13 p.m. EST (0313 GMT or 9:13 a.m. local time on Dec. 20).

Russia’s first short-stay mission to the International Space Station came to an end with the parachute-assisted landing. The tour’s main purpose was to fly two self-funded spaceflight participants aboard the same spacecraft. Previously, just one private astronaut was on board, and flights were planned around the swapping of a fresh Soyuz with one that had been connected to the space station for several months.

Filming and posting the successful journey

Misurkin, Maezawa, and Hirano docked with the space station on Dec. 8, six hours after taking out from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. Maezawa began sharing his adventure through a series of short-form videos filmed and produced by Hirano even before he left Earth. Later, they were uploaded to YouTube. Following those movies, 14 videos made in space were shown, with topics ranging from “fashion in space” to “creating music in space” to “eating snacks in zero gravity.”

The Soyuz performed a deorbit burn three hours later, at 9:18 p.m. EST (0318 GMT Dec. 20), starting the capsule’s descent back to Earth.

Space Adventures, the only business to date to carry its clients to the International Space Station, negotiated Maezawa and Hirano’s flight contracts. Space Adventures staged eight missions for seven self-funded astronauts before the Soyuz MS-20.

Maezawa, 46, is the creator and CEO of Start Today, as well as the founder of ZOZO, an online retail clothing company that he sold to Yahoo! Japan. He paid SpaceX an undisclosed but significant sum for a circumlunar journey on the company’s still-in-development Starship spacecraft in 2018.

Hirano, 36, was a film producer at Start Today before managing the photography crew at ZOZO. Hirano took part in human health and performance research as well as filming Maezawa during the trip. This was done on behalf of the Baylor College of Medicine’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH).

Misurkin, 44, is presently on his third mission to the International Space Station, having previously served on the Expedition 35/36 and Expedition 53/54 teams. He’s been in space for a total of 346 days.

Misurkin became the first space-based correspondent for Russian news agency TASS aboard the Soyuz MS-20, writing and filing articles about a blood flow experiment. Among other things, he set a new record for a makeshift badminton match aboard the space station. Misurkin, Maezawa, and Hirano were instrumental in breaking the previous record for the most persons in space at the same time.

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