BAIKONUR SPACEPORT /Kazakhstan/, December 8. /TASS/. Russia’s Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft carrying TASS reporter cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his business assistant Yozo Hirano has been placed into orbit, an announcer at the Baikonur spaceport revealed.
The Soyuz-2.1a rocket with the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft blasted off from Site 31 (Vostok) at the Baikonur spaceport at 10:38 am Moscow time (07:38 am GMT). The flight to the International Space Station, consisting of four orbits around the Earth, will take about six hours and three minutes. The spacecraft is expected to dock with the station’s Poisk mini-research module at 04:41 pm Moscow time (01:41 pm GMT).
The Soyuz spacecraft will deliver holiday gifts and homemade delicacies to the Russian members of the ISS crew. The cosmonauts will receive holiday greetings from their families and personal gifts. A total of 162 kilograms of useful payloads will be brought to the orbit outpost, including supplies for medical and biological research, expendable equipment, personal supplies, food rations and 13 kilograms of fresh fruit.
The space mission will last 12 days. Misurkin, Maezawa and Hirano will return to Earth on the morning of December 20.
On November 17, TASS and the Roscosmos State Space Corporation signed a memorandum of cooperation, which stipulates establishing a TASS news office aboard the ISS. Under the agreement, Roscosmos cosmonaut, Hero of Russia Alexander Misurkin will be the first TASS correspondent in space. He will report on the space station’s daily routine. His reports, photos and videos will be available on TASS news resources.