Japanese billionaire takes off for International Space Station before Musk’s SpaceX sends him round the Moon

A Japanese billionaire and his producer rocketed to space Wednesday as the first self-paying space tourists in more than a decade

Kazakhstan Russia Space Station
Kazakhstan Russia Space Station

A Japanese billionaire has blasted up to the International Space Station as its first visiting space tourists to pay for themselves since 2009.

The trip comes ahead of a planned journey around the Moon for fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa. That trip is planned with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and will mark the first private trip so far into space and a major flight for the company.

But first he has travelled to the floating lab along with producer Yozo Hirano, who plans to film his mission

The pair blasted off for the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft along with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

The trio lifted off as scheduled at 12:38 p.m. (0738 GMT) aboard Soyuz MS-20 from the Russia-leaded Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan

.Maezawa and Hirano are scheduled to spend 12 days in space. The two will be the first self-paying tourists to visit the space station since 2009. The price of the trip hasn’t been disclosed.

“I would like to look at the Earth from space. I would like to experience the opportunity to feel weightlessness,” Maezawa said during a pre-flight news conference on Tuesday. “And I also have a personal expectation: I’m curious how the space will change me, how I will change after this space flight.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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