Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa arrives at space station

Yusaku Maezawa , a Japanese billionaire and fashion mogul, arrived at the International Space Station on Wednesday for a 12-day stay. H...


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

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

Mr Maezawa, a lively adventure seeker, gained international attention in 2016 when he spent $ 57.3 million at an auction for a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. In 2017 he paid $ 110.5 million for another painting by the same artist. In 2018, he declared his interest in space flights during an event at SpaceX headquarters in Southern California, where he joined company founder Elon Musk on stage to announce he would be the first passenger to board SpaceX’s massive rocket spacecraft new generation that will one day transport NASA astronauts to the lunar surface.

This Starship mission, which go around the moon and come back, is scheduled for 2023, although it is likely to be delayed. Mr. Maezawa had planned to invite a group of artists on the trip, but early last year he launched a public competition in which women could apply to be his “life partner” and join him when of the trip to the moon – a pairing quest that would become a documentary. After the ad was criticized, he canceled those plans and apologized to the nearly 28,000 women who applied. Later he opened a new call for eight people to join him on the mission instead.

The space station getaway for Mr. Maezawa, 46, was announced in May, and he has been training for weeks at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center just outside Moscow. He will spend 12 days on the station, and Mr. Hirano, who runs Mr. Maezawa’s YouTube channel, will chronicle the mission from start to finish.

“I was lucky to have this opportunity and I’m really happy to be able to go,” Maezawa told reporters at a press conference the day before his flight, adding that he was looking forward to see the Earth from space and float in zero gravity. He said he felt like an “elementary school student waiting for a school trip”.

On board, he will participate in a research program studying how the human body reacts to conditions in space. He crowdsourced a list of 100 things to do aboard the station, which includes getting a haircut, playing an instrument, and searching for aliens.

For the trip to the space station, Mr. Maezawa has reserved seats through Space Adventures, a US company that arranges trips to space for wealthy tourists. He didn’t say how much he paid for the mission.

The crew traveled to space aboard a Soyuz rocket, the Russian spacecraft that launches its astronauts to the International Space Station. Before SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule became NASA’s ride of choice, US astronauts relied on the Soyuz for their trips to the space station between 2011 and 2020, with each seat costing NASA around $ 70-100 million. .

The price Mr. Maezawa paid for each of the two seats – his and Mr. Hirano’s – was “definitely in that approximation,” said Eric Anderson, co-founder and CEO of Space Adventures.

“The price has not gone down, it has gone up over the years,” Anderson said in a telephone interview. “It has two seats, and it’s expensive, but it’s worth it.”

The mission is Space Adventures’ ninth since 2001, when Dennis Tito, an American engineer and businessman, became the first person to self-fund space travel. Like other wealthy space tourists, Mr. Maezawa was motivated to fly in space in part because “there are only so many great restaurants and other things he could do,” Mr. Anderson said.

Mr. Maezawa and his companion aren’t the only individuals to board the station this year. In October, a Russian actress and director sent to the space station to spend eight days shooting the first feature film with scenes shot in space.

And the two aren’t even the only private travelers to space this week. On Thursday, Blue Origin, the company founded by Jeff Bezos, the former CEO of Amazon, must transport its third group of travelers to the ends of space. Michael strahan, the television host and former New York Giants defensive end, is one of six passengers on the New Shepard suborbital spacecraft.

These sightseeing excursions come as private companies and government space agencies strive to open space to more people than government-backed astronauts.

Mr. Musk’s SpaceX earlier this year launched the first completely private orbital mission, called Inspiration4. Four passengers, led by mission billionaire Jared Isaacman, spent three days orbiting Earth at an altitude above the space station. Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, the publicly traded space tourism company founded by Richard Branson, offer shorter trips that do not reach orbit and take around 10 minutes from launch to landing.

And beyond short trips to space, Blue Origin and other companies make plans to build private space stations in orbit with the support of NASA. The agency hopes that the current International Space Station will operate until 2030 and then switch to commercially owned and operated stations.

Axiom Space, another private space company, plans to attach private modules to the space station that eventually detach and become his own laboratory. Similar to Space Adventures, the company also arranges private trips to the space station. His first mission of this type is scheduled for February, when send three wealthy people to the lab for $ 55 million each.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa arrives at space station
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