• Reuters

Japan billionaire Maezawa lands in Kazakhstan after 12-day space flight

Roscosmos via Reuters
Space flight participant Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa is seen inside the Soyuz MS-20 space capsule shortly after landing in a remote area outside Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Monday, in this still image taken from video.

ZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan (Reuters) — Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa returned to Earth on Monday after a 12-day journey into space, ending a practice run for his planned trip around the moon with Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2023.

The 46-year-old fashion magnate and art collector, who launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 8 along with his assistant Yozo Hirano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, landed on the Kazakh steppe.

Maezawa, a space enthusiast, made the trip in a Soyuz spacecraft and became the first space tourist to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) in more than a decade.

Roscosmos via Reuters
A search and rescue team works on the site of landing of the Soyuz MS-20 space capsule carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, space flight participants Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and his production assistant Yozo Hirano, in a remote area outside Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Monday, in this still image taken from video.

One of Japan’s most flamboyant public figures, Maezawa entertained his social media followers from space by taking photos of his home prefecture of Chiba, showing how to make tea.

The entrepreneur returned to snowy conditions on Earth, with precipitation and sub-zero temperatures at the landing site about 150 km (93 miles) south east of the town of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan.

Roscosmos via Reuters
Ground personnel assist Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa shortly after landing of the Soyuz MS-20 space capsule in a remote area outside Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Monday, in this still image taken from video.

Maezawa will become the first private passenger on the SpaceX moon trip in 2023, as commercial firms including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin usher in a new age of space travel for wealthy clients.

The billionaire, who sold his online fashion business Zozo to SoftBank in 2019, is searching for eight people who will join him in his moon voyage in 2023, requiring applicants to pass medical tests and an interview.