Japanese tycoon sets off for the International Space Station

Moscow (AP)-On Wednesday, a Japanese billionaire and his producer went into space as the first self-financed space tourist in more than a decade.

Fashion mogul Maezawa Yusaku and producer Hirano Yozo who planned to shoot his mission took the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station together with Russian astronaut Alexander Misulkin.

The trio took off on the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft from the Russia-led Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan at 12:38 pm (0738 GMT).

Maezawa and Heino plan to spend 12 days in space. The two will be the first group of self-financed tourists to visit the space station since 2009. The price of the trip has not been disclosed.

“I want to see the earth from space. I want to experience the opportunity of weightlessness,” Maezawa said at a pre-flight press conference on Tuesday. “And I also have a personal expectation: I am curious about how space will change me, and how I will change after this space flight.”

The company that organized the flight said that Maesawa Yusaku compiled a list of 100 things to do in space after consulting the public. Tom Shelley, President of Space Adventures, said the list includes “simple things about daily life, maybe other interesting activities, and more serious questions.”

“His purpose is to try to share with the public the experience of what it means to be in space,” Shelley told the Associated Press earlier this year.

Maesawa made his fortune in the retail fashion field and launched Zozotown, Japan’s largest online fashion mall. Forbes magazine estimates his net worth is 2 billion U.S. dollars.

The tycoon also scheduled a tentative flight around the moon on Elon Musk’s interstellar spacecraft in 2023. He will participate in this trip with eight contest winners.

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