It was 9:13 a.m. (03:13 GMT) on March 13 when fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa and his producer Yozo Hirano touched down in Kazakhstan’s steppes, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of the city of Zhezkazgan. Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin was on board as well.
Since search and rescue helicopters could not be dispatched to the area because of low clouds, all-terrain vehicles were used to transport rescue workers to the landing site and provide assistance to the crew while also performing medical checks. They stated that the three of them were in good health.
The astronauts will be flown to the Star City space flight preparation facility outside of Moscow later in the day for post-flight checks and rehabilitation.
Maezawa, 46, and his producer Hirano, 36, were the first self-paying tourists to visit the space station since 2009. They were the first to do so since 2009. Misurkin was on his third space mission when the incident occurred.
“Once you are in space, you realize how much it is worth it because you are having this amazing experience,” Maezawa told The Associated Press in a live interview conducted from the orbiting space station last week.
If Maezawa is asked about reports that he paid more than $80 million for the 12-day mission, the Japanese businessman says he is unable to disclose the contract sum but admits that he paid “pretty much” that amount.
Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko, a Russian actress and film director, spent 12 days on the International Space Station in October filming the world’s first movie in orbit, a project sponsored by Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos to help restore the country’s international reputation as a space power.
NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Mark Vande Hei, as well as Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, will remain at the space station for the time being.
“Those who criticize are perhaps those who have never been to space,” Maezawa said in an interview with the Associated Press from orbit, deflecting criticism from those who questioned his decision to spend money on space travel rather than using it to help people on Earth.
He stated that he experienced “a little bit of motion sickness” and that it was “a little bit difficult to sleep,” and that future space tourists should expect to spend up to five days acclimatizing to weightlessness.
Despite his motion sickness, Maezawa expressed satisfaction with the length of his journey, stating that “12 days was about right for me” in terms of adjusting to it and enjoying the rest of the flight.
Having solicited suggestions from the public prior to the flight, Maezawa had compiled a list of 100 things to do in space, which included playing sports such as badminton, table tennis, and golf inside the space station.
Seven other tourists were flown to and from the International Space Station between 2001 and 2009, thanks to the efforts of Space Adventures, a Virginia-based company that organized his flight.
Maezawa made his fortune in the retail fashion industry, launching Zozotown, Japan’s largest online fashion mall, which became a worldwide success. Forbes magazine has estimated his net worth to be $1.9 billion, according to the publication.
Additionally, the tycoon has booked a flight around the moon aboard Elon Musk’s Starship, and he and eight other contest winners will be joining him on the journey. He stated that he intends to embark on that mission in 2023.