Fashion Tycoon Yusaku Maezawa Heads to International Space Station for 12-Day Adventure

Japanese fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa blasted off into space and will board the International Space Station on Wednesday to begin a 12-day adventure among the stars.

Maezawa and his producer, Yozo Hirano, left in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft accompanied by Alexander Misurkin, a Russian cosmonaut. The pair are the first paying tourists to go to the International Space Station since 2009.

They are scheduled to dock at the International Space Station later on Wednesday.

Maezawa involved the general public in his grand adventure and asked for help in coming up with ideas on what to do while in space. He ultimately created a list of 100 things, including "simple things about daily life to maybe some other fun activities, to more serious questions as well," said Tom Shelley, president of Space Adventures.

Space tourism is becoming more popular among the wealthy. Virgin CEO Richard Branson journeyed into suborbital space in July, as did Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, CNN reported.

In 2001, U.S. millionaire Dennis Tito became the first space tourist when he visited the international space station, CNN reported.

"I was euphoric. I mean, it was the greatest moment of my life, to achieve a life objective, and I knew then that nothing could ever beat this," he said.

When talking about the adventure that lies ahead, during a pre-flight news interview on Tuesday, Maezawa said, "I would like to look at the Earth from space. I would like to experience the opportunity to feel weightlessness.

"And I also have a personal expectation: I'm curious how the space will change me, how I will change after this space flight."

Yusaku Maezawa, Space Flight, Tourist
Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin (center) and space flight participants Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa (left) and assistant Yozo Hirano during training for their expedition to the International Space Station, in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, on October 14, 2021. Shamil Zhumatov/ Pool/ AFP/Getty Images

"His intention is to try to share the experience of what it means to be in space with the general public," Shelley told AP earlier this year.

Hirano plans to film the mission.

The trio lifted off as scheduled at 12:38 p.m. (0738 GMT) aboard Soyuz MS-20 from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan and docked at the orbiting outpost almost six hours later.

In several more hours, the crew will be able to open the hatches and move to the space station from the Soyuz.

The price of the trip hasn't been disclosed.

Maezawa made his fortune in retail fashion, launching Japan's largest online fashion mall, Zozotown. Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $2 billion.

The tycoon has also booked a flyby around the moon aboard Elon Musk's Starship that is tentatively scheduled in the next few years. He'll be joined on that trip by eight contest winners.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Yusaku Maezawa, Space Flight, Tourist
In this photo released by the Roscosmos Space Agency, spaceflight participant Yusaku Maezawa of Japan, a member of the main crew of the new Soyuz mission to the International Space Station, gestures prior to the launch at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 8. Pavel Kassin, Roscosmos Space Agency/AP Photo