ISS gets ready to welcome Japanese billionaire on Russian rocket

Yusaka Maezawa, the Japanese billionaire who made his fortune in e-commerce, has blasted off to the International Space Station for a 12-day trip as a space tourist. The visit makes him the first tourist to visit the craft in recent years and he now joins the growing list of billionaires who are jetting off the planet.

Mr Maezawa plans on completing 100 tasks while in space, including playing golf. He left for the ISS on a Russian rocket that left from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Wednesday 8 December and his trip is atrial run for his much-publicised visit to the moon in 2023.

He has been accompanied by the Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and video producer Yozo Hirano, who will be documenting Mr Maezawa’s time on the vessel. He underwent a vigorous training regime before being allowed to travel to the ISS, which included being spun in a ‘torturous’ spinning chair, sleeping in an inclined bed, and playing extended periods of badminton.

During a press conference held prior to the launch, the Japanese billionaire called the voyage a “dream come true”.

“People can have hopes and dreams (by seeing that) a regular person like me can go into such an unknown world.”

The tasks he has promised to complete while on the ISS have been created from suggestions made by the general public on social media. Some are more standards things, like introducing the astronauts and going through what life is like on the craft. Others are more far-fetched, such as blowing bubbles and throwing a paper aeroplane.

The trip is reportedly costing $88m (£66m) and comes after fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos going into space earlier this year. MrMaezawa’s personal wealth stands at around $1.9bn (£1.43bn) according to Forbes.

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Written by

Claire Gordon