SpaceX moon mission billionaire buys ticket to ISS for this year

Yusaku Maezawa will catch a ride as a space tourist on board a Russian spacecraft.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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Yusaku Maezawa has passed the medical examinations and is cleared to train for and travel to the ISS in December 2021.

Space Adventures

Yusaku Maezawa can't wait to get to space, so he's not going to wait. The Japanese billionaire entrepreneur famously bought up all the tickets on SpaceX's planned around-the-moon Starship mission targeted for 2023. But first, he's set to visit the International Space Station later this year.

Maezawa and his production assistant Yozo Hirano are scheduled to launch on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS on Dec. 8.   

Space tourism company Space Adventures announced Thursday that Maezawa has passed the required medical examinations for the journey into orbit and will begin three months of spaceflight training in June. The entrepreneur confirmed the news, tweeting, "Going to the ISS before the moon."

Maezawa will spend 12 days in orbit and the mission will be commanded by cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, an ISS veteran. "I'm so curious 'what's life like in space?' So, I am planning to find out on my own and share with the world on my YouTube channel," the billionaire said in a statement.

Space Adventures has worked with Roscosmos to ferry seven self-funded tourists to the ISS since 2001. The most recent was Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte in 2009.

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The SpaceX Starship moon mission, if it works out, will be very different from a trip to the ISS. The company plans to launch Maezawa and a group of artists on a trip around our lunar neighbor. But first, SpaceX needs to complete development on Starship, which has been going through an intensive testing process and hasn't yet reached orbit.

The Roscosmos Soyuz spacecraft is a proven technology that's ready to fly right away. It's Maezawa's quickest option for experiencing life off this rock, and it looks like he's going to take it.

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