MOSCOW: A Japanese billionaire and his producer rocketed to space Wednesday as the first self-paying space tourists since 2009.
Fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa and producer Yozo Hirano, who plans to film his mission, blasted off for the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft along with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.
The trio lifted off as scheduled at 12:38 pm (0738 GMT) aboard Soyuz MS-20 from the Russia-leaded Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.
Maezawa and Hirano are scheduled to spend 12 days in space.
The two will be the first self-paying tourists to visit the space station since 2009.
The price of the trip hasn't been disclosed.
"I would like to look at the Earth from space. I would like to experience the opportunity to feel weightlessness," Maezawa said during a pre-flight news conference on Tuesday.
"And I also have a personal expectation: I'm curious how the space will change me, how I will change after this space flight."