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Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to fly to space station in December

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, shown here at an event announcing his plan to fly around the moon on SpaceX's Starship vehicle, has booked a trip to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Liftoff is scheduled for Dec. 8, 2021.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, shown here at an event announcing his plan to fly around the moon on SpaceX's Starship vehicle, has booked a trip to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Liftoff is scheduled for Dec. 8, 2021. (Image credit: collectSPACE.com)

Yusaku Maezawa has booked another trip to space.

The Japanese billionaire, who's already scheduled to fly around the moon in 2023 on SpaceX's Starship vehicle, will visit the International Space Station this December.

If all goes according to plan, Maezawa will launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 8, kicking off a 12-day mission to the orbiting lab organized via Virginia-based company Space Adventures. 

Photos: The first space tourists

Maezawa will be joined on the three-seat Soyuz by Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and film producer Yozo Hirano, who will document Maezawa's flight.

"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," Maezawa said in a statement issued by Space Adventures.

Maezawa and the other crewmembers will start a three-month training regimen in June at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, just outside Moscow, Space Adventures representatives said.

Space Adventures has booked tourist trips to the orbiting lab before, most recently in October 2009, when Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté made the journey. Maezawa's flight will be the first since then, and the first that involves two space tourists at once.

"We are excited for Maezawa-san, and we are honored to have enabled this opportunity for him to fly to space," Space Adventures chairman and CEO Eric Anderson said in the same statement. "Welcome to space, Yusaku!"

The company did not disclose how much the upcoming trip will cost Maezawa. Previous space tourists have reportedly paid between $20 million and $40 million for their missions to the orbiting lab.

The December flight would be the experience of a lifetime for most of us, but it will serve as something of a warmup for Maezawa if things go according to plan. He booked SpaceX's massive Starship rocket for a weeklong trip around the moon, which is currently targeted for liftoff in 2023.

The Starship trip won't make Maezawa the first two-time space tourist, by the way: Charles Simonyi flew to the International Space Station with Space Adventures twice, first in 2007 and again in 2009.

Maezawa's December flight will be the second Soyuz mission in rapid succession to carry amateur spaceflyers to the orbiting lab. Director Klim Shipenko and actor Yulia Peresild are scheduled to launch toward the station in October to film scenes for the upcoming Russian film "Challenge."

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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