The Japanese billionaire who purchased an orbiting trip around the moon in 2023 aboard SpaceX's Starship has paid for a separate flight to the International Space Station this coming December.
Yusaku Maezawa, 45, an online fashion tycoon, made headlines in 2019 when he launched a search for a female companion to accompany him during the lunar mission – but the request was unmet and he is now looking to bring eight friends instead.
Before Maezawa travels around the moon, he in a film producer will head to NASA's orbiting laboratory for 12 days with plans of sharing this out-of-world experience on YouTube.
The pair are set to launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 8, which has been organized through Space Adventures.
The cost of the flight has yet to be revealed, but previous space tourists have reportedly paid between $20 million and $40 million for their missions to the ISS.
The mission will be commanded by Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, who will carry Maezawa and his crew to the ship.
Maezawa is set to start astronaut training next month at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.
'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,' said Maezawa in a statement posted by Space Adventures.
Space Adventures has been cooperating with Roscosmos since the world's first space tourist flight in 2001.
In total, seven self-funded individuals have visited the space station and Maezawa plans to be the 8th and the first from Japan.
'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!'
Although Maezawa's plans were to have female companionship for the SpaceX mission to the moon, he has received more than 300,000 applications since announcing the opportunity in 2019.
India has had the highest number of people sign up to make the six-day dash, followed by the US, Japan and then France, Maezawa confirmed on Twitter.
A final interview and medical checkup is then due to take place this month, before the eight people are selected.
Maezawa had originally sought artists to accompany him on the trip, which was first announced in September 2018.
However, he decided to broaden the search to a 'more diverse audience', provided they are prepared to 'push the envelope' creatively and able to support other crew members 'who share similar aspirations'.
He had also proposed the idea of finding a 'girlfriend' to accompany him around the moon - with the journey turned into a television show.
But he cancelled the hunt in January last year despite 27,722 women applying, saying he had reservations about the idea.
'Despite my genuine and honest determination toward the show, there was a part of me that still had mixed feelings about my participation,' he said at the time.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.