Yusaku Maezawa will eventually travel around the moon on a SpaceX Starship. But his first trip to space, set for Tuesday, is a little closer to home.
Japanese billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa will soon achieve his dream of heading to space. The mega-rich founder of clothing house Zozo and his production assistant are heading to the International Space Station this week as part of the Soyuz MS-20 mission. We have all the details you need to follow along live right here.
Maezawa's space ambitions have been well documented over the last four years, with the announcement he would become the first paying customer to travel aboard the SpaceX Starship around the moon. That mission, "dearMoon," is scheduled for a 2023 launch and will take up to eight artists "further than any other human has travelled before" as it flies around the moon.
But first, Maezawa is going off-planet atop Russia's workhorse rocket, the Soyuz 2.1a, inside a Soyuz capsule.
The MS-20 launch is scheduled to lift off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:38 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Dec. 7 (2:38 a.m. ET, Dec. 8). You can watch the launch on NASA TV, live. We have that stream just below:
Maezawa will be flying with his production assistant, Yozo Hirano, and documenting the mission for his YouTube channel. The mission commander will be Alexander Misurkin, a cosmonaut with Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, who will be flying to space for the third time. The tourists will stay aboard the ISS for 12 days before returning to Earth in the Soyuz capsule.
"I'm so curious 'what's life like in space'?" said Maezawa in a press release back in May.
Maezawa and Hirano paid for the trip via space tourism company Space Adventures. The company has sent seven customers to space on eight missions, with Charles Simonyi, a Microsoft software engineer, taking two trips in 2007 and 2009.
This space tourism mission also follows the Soyuz launch of a Russian film crew duo back in October. The pair spent 12 days on the station shooting a film currently titled "The Challenge," which is yet to receive a release date. Tom Cruise is also expected to head to orbit for his own shoot, with NASA and SpaceX partnering to make Mr. Mission Impossible an astronaut.