Japanese billionaire excited as a child before going into space
Sylvie Claire / December 7, 2021
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said he was excited as a child on Tuesday, the eve of his flight to the International Space Station, a trip in a Russian spacecraft that marks Moscow's return to the orbital tourism market.
The 46-year-old whimsical businessman, who made his fortune in online fashion, will take his place Wednesday morning in the Soyuz rocket with his assistant Yozo Hirano and cosmonaut Alexander Missourkine. The two Japanese will then spend 12 days on board the ISS.
During the 12 days, Mr. Hirano will have to document on video the stay of the two men and their interactions on board the ISS. The billionaire has set a list of 100 tasks he wants to accomplish.
The cosmonaut Alexander Missourkine, who will pilot Soyuz, judged that his companions will have a loaded program: it will be a challenge to do everything. He planned with the space tourists a friendly tournament of badminton in weightlessness.
This flight comes at a crucial moment for the Russian aerospace industry, which has been plagued for years by scandals and is competing with private American players, including billionaire Elon Musk's Space X, which is now ferrying passengers to the ISS and has launched into space tourism.
In the 2000s, Russia, in partnership with the company Space Adventures, had already sold seats aboard Soyuz to rich personalities, but it had been more than a decade since it had organized such tourist flights.
In addition, Russia sent a director and an actress to the ISS in October to shoot the first feature film in history in orbit, a shoot intended to compete with a similar project lent to Tom Cruise.