Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa takes off towards the Space Station


Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, 46, took off this Wednesday (8) in a Russian spacecraft heading for the International Space Station (ISS), which he sees as a rehearsal for his planned voyage around the moon with Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2023.

The flight with the businessman and art collector departed from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. With him are his assistant Yozo Hirano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. They will spend 12 days aboard the ISS.

Maezawa, a space enthusiast who has been training for the journey for months, has become a household name in Japan thanks to his penchant for private jets, famous girlfriends and cash giveaways to Twitter followers.

On Tuesday (7), the day before his flight, Maezawa said he was “excited as a child before a school trip”.

“I really want to see Earth from space, experience zero gravity, see how space changes people and see how I’m going to change after this flight,” said the billionaire.

During the 12 days, his assistant Hirano will video document the two men’s stay and their interactions aboard the ISS.

The billionaire has prepared a list of 100 activities he wants to do. Cosmonaut Alexandre Missourkine, who will pilot Soyuz, believes his colleagues will have a busy schedule. “It will be a challenge to do everything,” he said.

He has planned with the space tourists a “friendly” non-gravity badminton tournament.

The flight comes at a crucial time for the Russian aerospace industry, hampered for years by scandals and in constant competition with US private companies, particularly with Space X, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, which now transports passengers to the ISS.

Maezawa is expected to become the first private passenger on the SpaceX lunar voyage and has started looking for eight people to join him, demanding that candidates pass medical tests and an interview.


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