TOKYO: A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa returned to Earth on Monday after he stayed at the International Space Station for the first time as a Japanese nonastronaut.
The Soyuz landed on the grasslands of Kazakhstan around 12:15 p.m. Japan time (3:15 a.m. GMT), according to Russia’s state-run space corporation Roscosmos.
Maezawa moved into the Soyuz from the ISS around 5 a.m. The Soyuz was separated from the ISS around 9 a.m.
All aboard the spacecraft, including Maezawa, are safe and well, NASA said.
Maezawa, 46, the founder of online fashion mall operator Zozo Inc., made the space trip with Yozo Hirano, a 36-year-old executive of an affiliated company.
The two, along with a Russian astronaut assigned to become the ISS’s new commander, arrived at the space station after blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 8.
During his stay of around 12 days, Maezawa carried out experiments requested by the general public, appeared on radio live and posted YouTube videos.
Maezawa and Hirano are the 13th and 14th Japanese nationals who have experienced a space trip. They made their trip using a service provided by a US company.
To prepare for the travel, both Maezawa and Hirano received training at a facility near Moscow and elsewhere from June this year.
Maezawa has also been informally selected as the first passenger on a trip around the moon planned for 2023 by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, of the United States.