Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa ahead of the launch to the International Space Station

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'Not afraid': Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa launches into space station

“The closer it gets, the more excited I get. I’m not scared or worried,” said Yusaku Maezawa.

Moscow:

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said on Thursday that he had no fear ahead of his “dream-go-true” launch to the International Space Station (ISS), a Russian project aimed at increasing its space tourism.

The mission is one of several this year by non-professional astronauts, including 90-year-old “Star Trek” actor William Shatner, who on Wednesday conducted a space flight aboard a Blue Origin rocket.

Maezawa, 45, is the founder of Japan’s largest online fashion and the country’s 30th richest man, according to Forbes.

“I have a list of a hundred things I want to do at the station like play badminton,” Maezawa said at a news conference on Thursday.

“The closer it gets, the more excited I get. I’m not scared or worried,” he said.

Maezawa and his assistant will blow off the Russian-hired Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December, along with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

They are scheduled to spend 12 days aboard the ISS and Maezawa has said he plans to document his trip for his YouTube channel with over 700,000 subscribers.

“I want to tell you that dreams come true,” he said in Moscow on Thursday. “Go for the goal. It all depends on you.”

He will be the first space tourist to travel to the ISS with Russia’s space agency Roscosmos since 2009 when Canadian Guy Laliberte, co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, traveled to the station.

Earlier this month, Roscosmos sent an actress and director to the ISS filming scenes for the first film in orbit. They will return to Earth on Sunday.

Maezawa’s three – man crew will travel aboard the Soviet – designed Soyuz rocket, which has been carrying astronauts from around the world to the ISS for decades.

Last year, however, Russia lost its monopoly on ISS flights to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which successfully delivered NASA astronauts to the station in a Crew Dragon capsule.

SpaceX made history this year by sending the first all-civilian crew around the Earth’s orbit in a mission called Inspiration4.

The American company also plans in 2023 to take on a completely civilian mission on a flight around the moon, funded by Maezawa, which plans to be among the eight people on board.

Competition in space tourism increases when more players emerge.

Blue Origin, the company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, completed two missions beyond the Earth’s atmosphere this year.

Virgin Galatic from billionaire Richards Branson offers a similar experience of a few minutes in weightlessness before returning to Earth.

Both Bezos and Branson were on board for their company’s respective maiden voyage.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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