Two Americans, one Russian blast off for ISS from Kazakhstan

NASA astronauts Richard Arnold (L), Andrew Feustel (R), and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev (C) pose for a picture after a press conference at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 20, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Two Americans, one Russian blast off for ISS from Kazakhstan

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan: Two astronauts, a cosmonaut and a ball set to be used in the forthcoming football World Cup in Russia blasted off Wednesday for a two-day flight to the International Space Station.
NASA’s Drew Feustel and Richard Arnold lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a five month mission in a Soyuz MS-08 under the command of Russian colleague Oleg Artemyev at the expected time of 1744 GMT.
All three crew members have been in space before although NASA duo Feustel, 52, and Arnold, 54, have never served on a long-duration spaceflight and have just 40 days in orbit between them.
Artemyev, who is commanding a Soyuz craft for the first time, spent 169 days at the International Space Station during his previous mission in 2014.
In the build up to the launch, Russian media coverage homed in on Artemyev taking to the orbital laboratory a football that is expected to kick off the 2018 World Cup the country is hosting this summer.
“We are taking a ball with us,” Artemyev told a pre-flight press conference on Tuesday.
“Possibly the one that will be used in the first game,” said the 47-year-old, who attended school in the steppe town right next to the cosmodrome in central Kazakhstan.
His colleague from the Russian space agency Anton Shkaplerov is expected to take the ball back down to earth less than two weeks before the national team take on Saudi Arabia in the tournament opener on June 14.
The three men will join Expedition 55 commander Shkaplerov NASA’s Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai of the Japanese space agency at the orbital lab on Friday.
The ISS laboratory, a rare example of American and Russian cooperation, has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometers per hour since 1998.


SpaceX’s first private passenger is Japanese fashion magnate Maezawa

This artist's illustration courtesy of SpaceX obtained September 17, 2018, shows the SpaceX BFR(Big Falcon Rocket)rocket passenger spacecraft. SpaceX is to reveal on September 17, 2018 the identity of the first person it plans to transport around the Moon in an ambitious project financed entirely by its eccentric CEO Elon Musk. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2018
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SpaceX’s first private passenger is Japanese fashion magnate Maezawa

  • SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world
  • SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets

HAWTHORNE, California: SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space transportation company, on Monday named its first private passenger as Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa, the founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo.
A former drummer in a punk band, billionaire Maezawa will will take a trip around the moon aboard its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialize space travel to new heights.
The first passenger to travel to the moon since the United States’ Apollo missions ended in 1972, Maezawa’s identity was revealed at an event Monday evening at the company’s headquarters and rocket factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne.
In moves typical of his publicity-seeking style, Musk, who is also the billionaire chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Inc, had previously teased a few tantalizing details about the trip and the passenger’s identity, but left major questions unanswered.
On Thursday, Musk tweeted a picture of a Japanese flag. He followed that up on Sunday with tweets showing new artist renderings of the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, the super heavy-lift launch vehicle that Musk promises will shuttle the passenger to the moon and eventually fly humans and cargo to Mars, using the hashtag #OccupyMars.
While the BFR has not been built yet, Musk has said he wants the rocket to be ready for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024, though his ambitious production targets have been known to slip.
SpaceX plans a lunar orbit mission. It was not clear how much Maezawa paid for the trip.
Maezawa made his fortune by founding the wildly popular shopping site Zozotown. His company Zozo, officially called Start Today Co. Ltd, also offers a made-to-measure service using a polka dot bodysuit, the Zozosuit..
With SpaceX, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, the SpaceX passenger will join a growing list of celebrities and the ultra-rich who have secured seats on flights offered on the under-development vessels.
Those who have signed up to fly on Virgin Galactic sub-orbital missions include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.
Short sightseeing trips to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket are likely to cost around $200,000 to $300,000, at least to start, Reuters reported in July.
SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets. The company has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged billions of dollars’ worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the US Department of Defense.
SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world.
SpaceX previously announced plans to eventually use Falcon Heavy to launch paying space tourists on a trip around the moon, but Musk said in February he was inclined to reserve that mission for the BFR.