(Hanna Ingber Win) Yutaka Maezawa, the owner of Japanese e-retailer Zozotown, pays USD one million for a ride on the Soyuz TMA-17M launch with Commander Maxim Surayev of Roscosmos (Russian Space Agency) and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on Monday, May 28, 2018. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
A Japanese billionaire plans to try and become the first private citizen to visit the International Space Station (ISS) when his own rocket blasts off in April, next year.
Yusaku Maezawa, founder of Tokyo-based online shopping site Zozotown, has picked the Japanese rocket maker Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for his trip.
When asked about the flight on Twitter, Maezawa said: “To be the first private citizen to visit space is an experience I want to share with everyone, including many Japanese people.”
Mizuawa’s company, A.C.E. Space Corporation, has said it is aiming to fly an unmanned craft to the ISS in April next year with the aim of launching a people-carrying mission a year later. The company said the cost of the trip would be $100 million and that the Soyuz rocket his space company chose had proved its reliability.
Mizuawa, who is 38, made the appointment after a year-long search for a designer for a rocket so he could eventually build his own spacecraft.
“One million dollars is a lot for the average citizen of this country, so it is extremely important that the company provide the best possible service,” said Munaiya.
There are no plans to launch another person on his flight, which would become the third private fly into space for people following California-based Virgin Galactic’s suborbital flights and SpaceX’s plans to fly a robotic spacecraft to the ISS next year.
NASA’s estimated astronaut flight count currently stands at around 220 and 2018 was the 41st anniversary of the agency’s first space shuttle launch on April 12, 1981.
NASA is seeking the best technology to send humans farther into space, beyond the point where they can travel only on their own crafts. Maezawa’s trip could be the first sign of who will lead that effort.
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