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Behind the economy... a Japanese billionaire in space

Behind the economy… a Japanese billionaire in space

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has arrived at the International Space Station for a 12-day stay. It is the latest privately funded space traveler in a year that has seen more space travelers than ever before.

Maezawa, the founder of online fashion retailer Zuzu, blasted off into space from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on a Russian rocket, with his co-pilot Yuzu Hirano, who will be documenting his flight. The three-man crew docked at the space station six hours after liftoff.

After their ascent, the space station’s crew, now numbering 10, gathered in the Russian part for a short welcome party, where Maezawa and the other visitors chatted via live video call to the family, who were waiting in Baikonur to watch him arrive at the space station.

Maezawa attracted international attention in 2016, when he spent $57.3 million at 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 also announced his interest in spaceflight at an event held at SpaceX’s Southern California headquarters, where he joined company founder Elon Musk on stage to announce that he would be the first passenger to board SpaceX, the rocket that will transport astronauts NASA spacecraft one day to the surface of the moon.

The space flight of Maezawa, 46, was announced last May, and he has been training for weeks at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center outside Moscow. Maezawa told reporters that he “looks forward to seeing the Earth from space and floating in weightlessness.” “I’m excited about space travel, because there’s only so much fine dining and other things he can do on Earth,” he added.

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