Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will launch to space station early Wednesday: Watch it live

Two space tourists will launch toward the International Space Station on Wednesday (Dec. 8), and you can watch the action live.

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, video producer Yozo Hirano and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin is set to launch at 2:38 a.m. EST (0738 GMT or 1:38 p.m. local time) Wednesday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

NASA Television will carry coverage of the Soyuz spacecraft launch live starting at 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT), and you can also catch the event on the NASA app, NASA social media channels and here at Space.com. Coverage comes courtesy of Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency.

NASA and Roscosmos will also provide coverage of other milestones of the 12-day mission, which was organized via Virginia-based company Space Adventures. The flight starts with a six-hour ride to the International Space Station, with docking at the station's Poisk module expected around 8:41 a.m. EST (1341 GMT) on Wednesday.

Photos: The first space tourists

NASA television coverage will begin at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) for docking, then coverage will stop and resume at 10:15 a.m. EST (1415 GMT) for hatch opening and welcome remarks. (These times could change, depending on how the launch goes.)

Maezawa, Hirano and Misurkin will join the orbiting lab's Expedition 66, which currently includes the following people in orbit: commander Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos; NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron; and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer.

NASA also will provide coverage when Misurkin, Maezawa, and Hirano depart the station on Sunday (Dec. 19) for their scheduled landing at 10:18 p.m. EST (0318 GMT or 9:18 a.m. local time in Kazakhstan on Monday, Dec. 20.)

The agency will cover the hatch closing Dec. 19 starting at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT), undocking at 6:30 p.m. EST (2330 GMT) and the deorbit and landing at 9 p.m. EST (0200 GMT Dec. 20).

After this space mission, Maezawa hopes to fly even farther than the ISS. The billionaire, who founded the online fashion retailer Zozotown among other companies, also has a journey around the moon booked on SpaceX's huge Starship vehicle. That flight is tentatively set for 2023.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace