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Japanese billionaire, assistant blast off for 12-day International Space Station visit

A Japanese billionaire and his assistant departed in a rocket headed to the International Space Station on Wednesday. 

Yusaku Maezawa, who founded Japan’s largest online fashion retailer Zozotown, was joined on the trip by his assistant, Yozo Hirano, a film producer who will document the trip via YouTube, CBS News reported.

They are the first paying “space tourists” to make the trip in over a decade, according to the outlet. 

The rocket launched at 12:38 p.m. local time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the trip, which is set to last 12 days.

Maezawa paid the Russian space agency Roscosmos an unknown amount to fly to space for this trip, which was arranged by Virginia-based Space Adventures. Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin was also aboard the flight commanding the Russian Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft, according to CBS.

“I feel like an elementary school student about to go on an outing,” Maezawa said, according to CBS. “I didn’t think I would be able to go to space. … I feel fortunate to have this opportunity and to finally fulfill my dream.”

Maezawa’s “intention is to try to share the experience of what it means to be in space with the general public,” Space Adventures President Tom Shelley previously said to The Associated Press

In 2018, Maezawa announced that he was also working with SpaceX to charter a flight for himself and about eight guests to travel around the moon. That mission is currently set to take place in 2023, CBS added.

The Hill has reached out to Space Adventures for comment.

Tags Human spaceflight Space tourism

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