“Space now,” was what Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa wanted to tweet for years. He finally did it for real, from the International Space Station.
“The space market has so much potential,” he said Friday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo, his first press conference in Japan after returning to Earth for Christmas.
Maezawa, who heads a company called Start Today, is preparing to invest in several companies that could emerge from ongoing research by NASA, its Japanese equivalent called JAXA, and others. But he wants to recover first from his recent celestial adventure: Returning to life with gravity has proved harder than he expected, he said.
It’s been 5 days since I came back but my body still feels very heavy.
I like this experience.
And I love earth and space.
— Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) (@yousuckMZ) December 25, 2021
Maezawa, 46, flew with a Russian cosmonaut in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on December 8, becoming the first self-paying tourist to visit the station since 2009.
He returned to Earth after spending 12 days at the orbiting outpost, where he captured videos of himself hovering in weightlessness, forming water droplets into bubbles and kicking a golf ball that floated to a flag in the spacecraft.
The clips, shot by astronaut Yozo Hirano, who accompanied Maezawa, have been posted to YouTube and have been viewed millions of times.
He tweeted “uchyu nau” or “space now,” in the style Japanese people often use on popular social media to communicate what they’re up to, such as “party now” or “eat now.”
“This is what I really wanted to say. My first tweet from space,” the post said, one with a photo of him in a T-shirt and shorts, floating cross-legged in a meditation pose.
He said he would like to tweet “moon now” next time. He has booked an orbit around the moon aboard Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Starship, planned in the coming years, possibly as early as next year.
“I don’t know when exactly to tweet that,” he said, because he wouldn’t land on the moon. “Maybe when we get to the far side of the moon.”
With over 11 million Twitter followers, Maezawa has gone on to become a flamboyant celebrity known for a free-spirited management style that is rare in Japan’s conformist, sedate business world.
He ran an import CD business and played in a rock band before starting an online fashion company in 1998. Famous for dating movie stars, Maezawa was both admired and ridiculed for his lavish purchases, including a Stradivarius violin and artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat. and Andy Warhol.
In 2019, Maezawa resigned as CEO of e-commerce company Zozo to devote his time to space travel and sell his company to Yahoo Japan. Forbes magazine estimates his net worth at $1.9 billion (about Rs. 14,120 crore).
How much Maezawa paid for his trip is the subject of much speculation and skepticism. Reports put the price tag at over $80 million (approximately Rs. 595 crore). Maezawa again refused to disclose the charges.
But he said living in space has made him appreciate the everyday more: the wind, the changing seasons, smells, and sushi.
Maezawa hopes world leaders can one day take that same journey. Planet Earth is “100 times more beautiful” than any photo he’d ever seen, he said, so maybe they’d realize the importance of working together too.
“That’s my dream,” he said.
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