Another pair of amateur astronauts is set to visit the International Space Station next month.
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, video producer Yozo Hirano and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 8, kicking off a 12-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Liftoff is scheduled for 2:38 a.m. EST (0738 GMT). You can watch it live at Space.com when the time comes, courtesy of Roscosmos, Russia's federal space agency.
Photos: The first space tourists
【11 days until Launch🚀】Unusual training in Russia ③The spinning chair - almost feels like torture. Some cosmonauts say it’s necessary, some say it’s not. Either way, it’s the hardest training ever done.※Warning: eyes will be spinning just by watching#MZJourneytoSpace pic.twitter.com/ARzh7yaXXkNovember 27, 2021
Maezawa booked the trip for himself and Hirano, who will document the flight, via Virginia-based company Space Adventures. Space Adventures has sent seven different paying customers to the orbiting lab to date, most recently in the fall of 2009, when Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté made the journey. Misurkin will command the Soyuz.
However, it hasn't been 12 years since an amateur astronaut has been aboard the ISS — far from it. Russian film director Klim Shipenko and actor Yulia Peresild visited the orbiting lab for 10 days in October, to film parts of a movie called "The Challenge."
Shipenko and Peresild made the journey on a Soyuz, but their trip wasn't organized by Space Adventures.
The Maezawa-Hirano-Misurkin flight will be the first ISS Space Adventures trip that carries more than one space tourist. The company has not revealed how much Maezawa paid for each seat, but previous customers reportedly plunked down $20 million to $40 million for their flights.
Maezawa has been keeping us posted on his preflight activities via Twitter. For example, on Nov. 19, he tweeted that he had arrived at Baikonur. And on Saturday (Nov. 27), he posted a series of tweets outlining the "unusual training" he has been undergoing recently, which includes sleeping on an inclined bed, playing badminton every day and being spun around in a special chair.
"The spinning chair — almost feels like torture. Some cosmonauts say it's necessary, some say it's not. Either way, it's the hardest training ever done. Warning: eyes will be spinning just by watching," Maezawa wrote via Twitter Saturday, where he posted a video of the spinning chair in action.
Maezawa will go much farther afield than the ISS a few years from now, if all goes according to plan. The billionaire, who founded the online fashion retailer Zozotown among other companies, has also booked a journey around the moon on SpaceX's Starship vehicle. That flight is tentatively targeted for 2023.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.