The AP Interview: Japanese Tourist Calls Space Trip 'Amazing'

MOSCOW (AP), A Japanese tourist who traveled to the International Space Station on Monday rejected criticisms from others, stating that the "amazing experience" was well worth the money.

The AP Interview: Japanese Tourist Calls Space Trip 'Amazing'

Yusaku Maezawa, a billionaire fashion tycoon, spoke live to The Associated Press from an orbiting space station. He said that even though he had imagined his mission before the flight, he was shocked by the reality of space travel.

In his first television interview since arriving at the station, he stated that "once you're in space, it's worth it." "I believe this incredible experience will lead me to something else."

Maezawa (46), and Yozo Hirano, 36, are the first self-paying tourists who have visited the space station since 2009. When asked about reports that Maezawa paid more than $80 million for a 12-day mission to the space station, Maezawa replied that he could not disclose the contract amount but that he did pay "pretty much".

Yulia Peresild, Russian actress, and Klim Shipenko, film director, spent 12 days at the station in October to record the first movie ever shot in orbit. This project was sponsored by Roscosmos, Russia's space agency.

Maezawa reacted to criticisms from others who doubted his decision to use money for space travel to help people back home on Earth. He said that those who criticize him are probably those who have never been in space.

He said that the most memorable moments were when he saw the International Space Station from Soyuz right before and after the docking.

While he acknowledged that space tourism is primarily for the super-rich, he said that it should be a priority for all who wish to travel in space.

He told the AP that although it was still expensive, it wasn't just about money. It takes time for your body and brain to adapt in such an environment. Training for emergency situations can take at least a few weeks. It is not affordable for everyone, but those who are financially able and who have the time. We don't know if this will be true in 10 or 20 years.

Maezawa said that he experienced "a bit of motion sickness" and that it was difficult to sleep. He also stated that future space tourists should be aware of the fact that they may need to spend as much as five days adapting to space sickness.

He admitted that napping is still a challenge.

To be honest, I am having trouble sleeping. He said that he was given a sleeping bag, but it is too hot and he has decided to not use it.

He was pleased with the length of his journey.

Maezawa said that twelve days was a good amount. "I'm getting over my motion sickness so that I can enjoy the rest of the days. I will be returning to Japan on the 20th. When I return, I will be back and I'm going to have sushi!

Hirano and Maezawa, who were filming their mission, flew to the International Space Station Wednesday in a Russian Soyuz rocket craft with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

Space Adventures, a Virginia-based firm that organized the flight, previously sent seven tourists to the station in 2001-2009.

Maezawa expressed deep admiration for the crew of the space station. They include Misurkin and NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron, Mark Vande Hei, and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, and Pyotr Dumbrov. Matthias Maurer is from the European Space Agency.

He said, "They are super-heroes that save Earth." They are not only ahead of the curve in science but also highly trained and mentally sharp. They can show me how human beings can grow so far. Our lives are dependent on them. They are very important to me."

Hirano and Hirano will return to Earth on Sunday with Misurkin.

After asking for suggestions from the public, Maezawa had created a list with 100 ideas to do in space before the flight.

He told the AP that he was looking forward to playing some sports in the space station - table tennis, badminton and golf. Toilet-related stuff is what I don't look forward to. "

Maezawa's fortune was made in retail fashion when he launched Zozotown, Japan's largest online shopping mall. Forbes magazine put his net worth at $1.9 million.

The business magnate has also booked a flight around the moon on Elon Musk's Starship. This is tentatively planned for the next few years. Eight contest winners will join him on this trip.

He stated, "I plan to go to the Moon in 2023. We are in the final stages selecting the 8 people to participate in the Dear Moon Project."

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