Tuesday April 23, 2019
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Yusaku Maezawa Trusts Elon Musk and SpaceX

Maezawa ran an import CD business and played in a rock band before he embarked on his online fashion business with his shopping site Zozotown.

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SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk, left, announces Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa (R) as the first private passenger on a trip around the moon, VOA

The Japanese online retail tycoon who plans to travel to the moon on the SpaceX rocket says he respects and trusts Elon Musk as a fellow entrepreneur, despite his recent troubles.

“Twitter can get you into trouble,” Yusaku Maezawa, chief executive of Zozo Inc., said Tuesday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo. “And that can be said of Elon Musk, too.”

Musk’s tweet in August that declared he had secured financing for a Tesla buyout got him in trouble with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Under a settlement, Tesla and Musk each must pay a $20 million penalty. Musk also stepped down as Tesla’s chairman.

Maezawa, 42, who is also quite active on social media, intends to be a passenger on Musk’s Space X, the first-ever private commercial space trip, scheduled for blastoff in 2023, to orbit the moon, in what Maezawa has dubbed his “#dearMoon Project.”

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A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket (VOA)

Maezawa said he got a good feel for Musk’s character by visiting Tesla, and seeing the relationship Musk had developed with his employees.

“They believe in Elon Musk,” he said. “That kind of company is marvelous. I felt that as another entrepreneur.”

Although Maezawa said nothing was decided yet on who was going with him on the space travel, he said he wanted to take visual artists, fashion designers and musicians from a variety of backgrounds, including the actress he was dating, Ayame Goriki, “if she proves to be a good match for the mission.”

Maezawa said his company has a twitter policy, and experts go over his tweets in advance. Sometimes he gets emotional on social media, but he is careful not to say anything that might hurt his company, he said.

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Yusaku Maezawa, the chief executive of Zozo, which operates Japan’s popular fashion shopping site Zozotown and is officially called Start Today Co, speaks at an event launching the debut of its formal apparel items, in Tokyo, Japan. VOA

Recently, he took to his twitter and Instagram accounts to lash out at online hecklers, who had ridiculed his halting rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on an expensive Stradivarius violin he had just purchased.

Maezawa is known for lavish purchases, including artworks by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. But he is equally known for sharing them with the public.

He shrugged off the possible dangers of space, just as he brushed off the risks of tweets and associations with Musk.

“There is no end if you start thinking about that,” he said of the risks.

Maezawa said he has not yet started training for the mission, but he has been getting regular medical checkups and is brushing up on his English.

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Tesla has become the most valuable American carmaker, with its stock worth more than $50 billion. Pixabay

In a nation where people tend to be focused on blending in and getting along, Maezawa has stood out. Forbes magazine estimates his wealth at $2.9 billion.

Maezawa ran an import CD business and played in a rock band before he embarked on his online fashion business with his shopping site Zozotown.

Recently, he has begun making clothes, such as a wearable technology called Zozosuit. The suit, splattered with hundreds of dots, takes body measurements with a software application, ensuring a good fit.

Maezawa said nicely fitting clothes bring smiles and the moon trip’s purpose also is to add to happiness.

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft onboard, launches from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Saturday, June 3, 2017. VOA

The world remembers the first words of the 1969 Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” he said.

Also Read: SpaceX Successfully Lands Falcon 9

Maezawa has a message of his own that he says will be more casual, akin to the lyrics he loved playing in rock bands growing up.

All I want to say is this: Wouldn’t the world be a better place if there is peace?” said Maezawa. (VOA)

Next Story

SpaceX Suffers Serious Setback During Crew Capsule Testing

This capsule flew to the International Space Station last month on a crewless trial run, and it was supposed to be reused in a launch abort test in June

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FILE - The Dragon spacecraft is seen in this photo provided by SpaceX. VOA

SpaceX has suffered a serious setback in its effort to launch NASA astronauts into orbit this year, with the fiery loss of its first crew capsule during testing.

Over the weekend, the company’s recently flown Dragon crew capsule was engulfed in smoke and flames on an engine test stand at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX was testing the Dragon’s abort thrusters when Saturday’s accident occurred.

The company said the test area was clear and no one was injured.

This capsule flew to the International Space Station last month on a crewless trial run, and it was supposed to be reused in a launch abort test in June. Another capsule was supposed to follow with two astronauts as early as July. Astronauts haven’t launched from Florida since 2011.

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FILE – The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaches the International Space Station, March 3, 2019. VOA

NASA said Monday it’s too early to revise the target launch dates, given that the accident is still so fresh. “This is why we test,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement over the weekend. “We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our commercial crew program.”

Until Saturday, SpaceX was on a roll to resume crew launches from Florida. The March test flight, to the space station and back, went smoothly. The SuperDraco thrusters embedded in the sides of the capsule were not used during the demo.

The thrusters are crucial to protect astronauts in flight; they’re designed to fire in an emergency and pull the capsule safely away from the rocket.

The University of Southern California’s Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut who directed space operations for SpaceX until last year, said it was a “tough day … not good” for the company. “But thankfully no one got hurt and with everything we learn from this anomaly Crew Dragon will be a safer vehicle for all her future crews,” he tweeted.

SpaceX said it will make sure, through the accident investigation, that the Dragon is one of the safest spacecraft ever built for astronauts. The California-based company released few details, though, on the accident itself and how it might impact future flights.

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Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe, now with Syracuse University, said via email Monday that it’s “too early to tell what the implications may be.”

SpaceX and Boeing

NASA has not launched astronauts from Cape Canaveral since the last shuttle flight in 2011, instead paying for rides on Russian rockets. The space agency turned the job over to two private companies — SpaceX and Boeing — to build new capsules to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

ALSO READ: Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

Earlier this month, NASA announced major delays for test flights of Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule. The initial trip to the space station, without astronauts, is targeted for August, with the first Starliner crew potentially flying by year’s end.

NASA stressed that next week’s launch of a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule remains on track. The supply ship is set to blast off from Cape Canaveral on April 30. SpaceX has been making deliveries to the space station since 2012. The crew Dragon is a much-enhanced version of the cargo version. (VOA)