Japanese billionare in the ISS

Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and fashion retail mogul, arrived at the International Space Station for a 12-day stay on Wednesday. He is the latest privately-funded traveler to the orbital laboratory in a year that has seen more tourists making voyages to space than ever before.

Mr. Maezawa, the founder of Zozo, a Japanese online fashion retailer, launched to space from Baikonur, Kazakhstan at 2:38 a.m. Eastern time (10:38 a.m. local time) on a Russian Soyuz rocket with Yozo Hirano, a production assistant who will document his trip. Alexander Misurkin, a Russian astronaut, was also on board. The three-man crew docked to the space station six hours later at 8:40 a.m. and boarded the outpost around 11:12 a.m.

After they arrived, the passengers and other astronauts gathered in the Russian segment for a brief welcoming ceremony, where Mr. Maezawa and the other visitors spoke on a live video connection to family and friends, who had been waiting in Baikonur to watch them reach the space station.

This travel wasn’t totally out of expectations, however. In 2018, Mr.Maezawa declared his interest in spaceflight at an event at the Southern California headquarters of SpaceX, where he joined the company’s founder, Elon Musk, on stage to announce that he would be the first passenger to ride SpaceX’s Starship, a massive next-generation rocket that will one-day ferry NASA astronauts to the lunar surface.

That Starship mission, which will circle the moon and back, is scheduled for 2023, although it is likely to be delayed. Mr. Maezawa had planned to invite a group of artists along for the trip, but then, early last year, he had started a public competition in which women could apply to be his “life partner” and join him on the moon trip — a matchmaking quest that would be made into a documentary. After the announcement was criticized, he canceled those plans and apologized to the nearly 28,000 women who had applied. Later, he opened a new call for eight people to join him on the mission instead.


Categories: Tech&Innovation