The Japanese fashion tycoon who has booked a SpaceX ride to the moon is going to try out the International Space Station first.
“Going to the ISS before the Moon,” Yusaku Maezawa announced on Twitter.
Maezawa has bought two seats on a Russian Soyuz capsule. He will blast off in December on the 12-day mission with his production assistant and a professional cosmonaut.
“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,” Maezawa said in a statement.
He will be the first person to pay his own way to the space station in more than a decade, according to Virginia-based Space Adventures, which brokered the deal.
A Space Adventures spokeswoman declined to divulge the cost.
The company has sent seven other tourists to the space station, from 2001 to 2009.
The tycoon’s trip to the moon aboard Elon Musk’s Starship is tentatively scheduled for 2023. He will fly around the moon — not land — with eight contest winners.
Maezawa, 45, who founded an online retail clothing business, will be joined by photographer and assistant Yozo Hirano.
They will be escorted by Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, who has spent nearly a year aboard the space station on two separate missions. The launch is scheduled for December 8 from Kazakhstan.
The announcement comes amid a flurry of private space initiatives.
The Russian Space Agency announced on Thursday that a Russian actress and director will go to the space station in October to film a movie, tentatively titled Challenge.
In January, the first private mission to the space station from the US will bring three businessmen — from the US, Canada and Israel — who are paying about 55 million dollars (£39 million) apiece.
They will launch aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule from Kennedy Space Centre and will be accompanied by a former Nasa astronaut who now works for Houston-based Axiom Space, which arranged the deal. The company plans about two private missions to the space station a year.
Before the space station visits, SpaceX will launch its first private spaceflight with four people on board, including tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who purchased the mission. They will spend three days orbiting Earth in September.
“This truly is a renaissance in US human spaceflight,” Nasa’s director of commercial spaceflight, Phil McAlister, said on Monday. “I think that’s the perfect word for what we’re experiencing.”