Riyaz E. Maezawa, Japanese billionaire who bought first $56 million space ticket, headed to space

Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese billionaire and onetime robotics scientist, who founded the popular design and app store Zozotown, arrived at the International Space Station for his first orbital mission Friday.

Mr. Maezawa made his way into space aboard a Soyuz capsule that was carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who are scheduled to return to Earth in December. He will spend nearly two months living on the station.

From the Russian side of the space station, Mr. Yezawa closed his eyes as he was packed into the cramped capsule and kissed the ground. From inside the capsule, he spoke briefly to a television reporter for AFP, thanking Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping of China for their support.

“I am really tired now,” he said. “I feel peaceful and safe and ready for this mission.”

Mr. Yezawa, 43, arrived at the station to celebrate his birthday, as well as launch his own virtual reality museum to the space station, according to The Guardian. He said he plans to invite 1,000 people to tour the space station as part of the tour, according to the NY Times.

During the mission, Mr. Yezawa will also photograph scenes as he floats around in space, according to The Telegraph.

Russia is limiting who can fly to space aboard Soyuz to those in specialized posts that wouldn’t be impacted by accidents, a Reuters report said. Mr. Yezawa is the first person ever to make a trip on an astronaut to the space station to use the “all-access pass” for those made available to news organizations.

Mr. Yezawa is the founder of Japan’s first nationwide online shopping mall Zozotown. He earned a doctorate in robotics and artificial intelligence and now teaches in Tokyo. He is also founder of Zozotown Global, a firm that hopes to harness space commerce.

Mr. Yezawa, who was said to have snapped up 111 Hermes yachts on eBay and half a million Facebook shares, bought a thousand seats on the Soyuz capsule at the zero-gravity Virgin Galactic spaceline for about $56 million a piece. The two astronauts and one cosmonaut on board are working on three projects. The Nasa-funded Ripley is working on space insurance issues and the Orbital link is developing a docking mechanism to transfer cargo to and from the space station. The Soyuz is the only way to get access to the space station since the space shuttle is retired and still being transported on SpaceX rockets and the Russian Soyuz rockets.

The UK’s Guardian said Soyuz space capsules are supplied by Russia “as far as the end of September and are allowed back into Earth’s atmosphere after a three-day trip.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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