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Universe Today

Billionaire finishes up space trip with online flourishes

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and two crewmates have returned to Earth after an 11-day mission to the International Space Station that was marked by online innovations including an NFT drop and a lottery giveaway.

Maezawa, his production assistant Yozo Hirano, and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin took a 3.5-hour ride from the station on a Soyuz craft, climaxing in a touchdown amid the steppes of Kazakhstan around the appointed time of 9:13 a.m. local time Dec. 20 (7:13 p.m. PT Dec. 19).

After the landing, the three spacefliers were helped out of the capsule and given medical checks.

The short-duration stay was the first private astronaut trip to the space station brokered by Virginia-based Space Adventures in 12 years. In an interview with The Associated Press, Maezawa said reports that he paid more than $80 million for the adventure were “pretty much” accurate.

“Once you are in space, you realize how much it is worth it by having this amazing experience,” he told AP. “And I believe that this amazing experience will lead to something else.”

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Universe Today

Space station trip fills Japanese billionaire with joy

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has begun his first space adventure — an 11-day visit to the International Space Station that could serve as the warmup for a round-the-moon trip to come.

Maezawa, production assistant Yozo Hirano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin rode a Soyuz capsule into orbit from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, with launch coming at 12:38 p.m. local time Dec. 8 (11:38 p.m. PT Dec. 7).

Hours later, the Soyuz docked with the station, and the trio floated inside to meet the orbital outpost’s seven other spacefliers. Maezawa was all smiles as he greeted family and friends back on Earth over a video link.

Before liftoff, the 46-year-old entrepreneur and art collector said he was looking forward to his journey.

“I feel excited like an elementary student waiting for a school trip,” he said at a news conference. “I want to see the Earth from space, float in zero gravity, and see how I will change through this experience. I was blessed with this opportunity, and I’m truly happy I can go.”

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Cosmic Space

Japanese billionaire doubles down on space tours

For some people, once is not enough when it comes to traveling to space — even if each trip costs tens of millions of dollars. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is apparently one of those people.

Virginia-based Space Adventures announced today that Maezawa and his production assistant, Yozo Hirano, will be taking a 12-day trip to the International Space Station, and documenting the adventure for Maezawa’s YouTube channel.

The Japanese pair will fly to the station and back aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that’s due for launch on Dec. 8, under the command of Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. All the medical checks have been made, and the trio is due to begin about three months of training at Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City in June, Space Adventures said.

“I’m so curious, ‘what’s life like in space?'” Maezawa said in Space Adventures’ news release. “I am planning to find out on my own and share with the world on my YouTube channel.”

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Cosmic Space

Japanese tycoon reboots contest for moon trip

Will the third time be the charm for Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese entrepreneur who’s looking for company on a trip around the moon?

Two and a half years ago, Maezawa announced that he would buy a ride on SpaceX’s Starship super-rocket — and select half a dozen artists on a par with Pablo Picasso or Michael Jackson to accompany him on a flight around the moon and back (without making a lunar landing).

A year ago, Maezawa took a different tack: He set up a reality-TV contest to choose a soulmate to be by his side, and invited women from around the world to apply. A couple of weeks later, he canceled the project and apologized to the 27,722 women who signed up.

Today marks the third try: Maezawa is opening up a fresh opportunity for folks to apply for a spot on his Starship, via his dearMoon website.

“I’m inviting you to join me on this mission,” he said in a video. “Eight of you from all around the world. It will be 10 to 12 people in all, but I will be inviting eight people to come along on the ridc.”

The current plan calls for the Starship launch to take place in 2023. A Super Heavy booster would lift the Starship to Earth orbit. Then the spaceship and its crew would loop around the moon and return to Earth. The round trip would last about six days in all.

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GeekWire

Billionaire quits moonshot matchmaking TV show

Yusaku Maezawa
Japanese billionaire space enthusiast Yusaku Maezawa has broken up with AbemaTV, which was working on a reality-TV dating show focusing on his planned trip around the moon. (Yusaku Maezawa via Twitter)

It’s not you, it’s me: That’s basically what Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is saying about his decision to end participation in a reality-TV matchmaking show that would have traced the selection of a woman contestant to accompany him on a trip around the moon.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

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GeekWire

Reality-TV dating game offers moon trip as prize

Yusaku Maezawa
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa tweeted a casting call for a woman to go on a round-the-moon trip with him, for a streaming-video documentary. (Yusaku Maezawa via Twitter)

What do you get when you cross “The Bachelor” with “Survivor,” and then throw in a round-the-moon trip? You might get the reality-TV project that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has signed on for.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

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GeekWire

Artists vie for a free trip around the moon

Violinist in zero-G
An artist’s conception shows a violinist in zero-G on SpaceX’s BFR spaceship. (SpaceX via Twitter)

It’s been only a day since SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled the plan to send Yusaku Maezawa and roughly half a dozen artists around the moon, but folks are already nominating themselves (and others) for a free trip.

Maezawa is paying an undisclosed but reportedly substantial amount for the journey on SpaceX’s yet-to-be-built BFR spaceship, and there are scads of details to be worked out before the launch date, which is currently set for 2023.

In a series of tweets today, Musk promised that the mission would be live-streamed in high-definition virtual reality, with the broadcast potentially facilitated by SpaceX’s yet-to-be-deployed Starlink satellite internet constellation. There could also be an onboard watering hole called the “Space Bar,” and the artists on the flight would be permitted (but not obliged) to perform in zero-G.

Musk promised to take questions during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” chat that’s yet to be scheduled. “Love Reddit,” he said in a tweet.

One of the more interesting questions has to do with who will be selected for Maezawa’s Willy Wonka-style golden tickets.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

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GeekWire

Japanese billionaire signs up for SpaceX moon trip

Maezawa and Musk
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk strike a pose at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (Yusaku Maezawa via Twitter)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk today introduced Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa as the first paying customer for a trip around the moon.

“Finally I can tell you that ‘I choose to go to the moon,’” Maezawa said, echoing President John F. Kennedy’s famous phrase.

Maezawa, 42, founded a mail-order retail business called Start Today in 1998, which spawned what’s now Japan’s largest fashion retail website, known as Zozotown. His net worth is estimated at more than $3 billion.

He’s made a name for himself as a musician and art collector as well as an entrepreneur. During tonight’s big reveal at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., Maezawa said he intended to invite six to eight artists from around the world, on the level of the late Pablo Picasso or Michael Jackson, to go around the moon with him.

Get the full story on GeekWire.