“A dream come true”: Japanese billionaire flies to the ISS

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“A dream come true”: Japanese billionaire flies to the ISS


A Japanese billionaire has fulfilled his childhood dream of traveling to space, as one of two passengers aboard a Russian rocket that took off to the International Space Station.

Yusaku Maezawa, the founder of Zozo, a successful online fashion company, and his production assistant, Yozo Hirano, on Wednesday became the first space tourists to visit the ISS in more than a decade.

But Maezawa, a renowned art collector with a net worth of $ 1.9 billion (£ 1.44 billion), said his ambitions did not end there, having embarked on a journey more ambitious around the moon on Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket scheduled for 2023..

Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin (center), Yusaku Maezawa (left) and Yozo Hirano (right) before the launch. Photo: Roscosmos / EPA press service document

On launch day, Maezawa and her crew left their hotel in Baikonur to listen to a Soviet-era song played for all the cosmonauts before their flights. The song, about the missing cosmonauts at home, was sung partially in Japanese.

Maezawa’s family and friends – some holding Japanese flags – waved him away as he was led to adjust his spacesuit.

“The dream comes true,” the tycoon tweeted before he and Hirano boarded a three-seater Soyuz spacecraft piloted by Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin as they approached their launch from the Kazakhstan Cosmodrome.

“I’m excited,” he told reporters on the eve of his 12-day trip. “I feel like an elementary school student about to go out. I didn’t think I could go to space. I loved the starry sky and the celestial bodies. I feel lucky to have this opportunity and finally to make my dream come true.

The 46-year-old took to social media to recount the 100 days he spent preparing for the mission, saying he enjoyed the experience of induced weightlessness in an adapted aircraft, but admitting that sitting in a swivel chair had been “like torture”.

He and Hirano, a film producer, will document everyday life on the space station, where the entrepreneur will perform 100 tasks for the tycoon’s YouTube channel, which has more than 750,000 subscribers.

Maezawa, who sold Zozo to SoftBank in 2019, will follow his ISS mission by becoming the first private passenger on the lunar journey aboard the SpaceX rocket.

He’s looking for eight people who “see themselves as artists” – but who don’t have to be artists – to accompany him on the six-day trip, which he will pay for himself. It has reportedly received over a million requests since last year.

Named by Forbes as the 30th richest person in Japan, Maezawa is considered something of a maverick in his homeland, where he made headlines with his fondness for private jets, supercars and works of art. art.

He created a Twitter frenzy last year when he announced he would give 1,000 of his 13.8million followers each as a ‘social experiment’ £ 1million (£ 6,650) . He dropped another online competition looking for candidates to be his girlfriend, but only after attracting nearly 30,000 applicants.

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