Actor Iwaki Koichi will be the first Japanese celebrity to travel to space as announced during a press conference on 18 April. He will be travelling in a space shuttle for 45 minutes and spend about 3 to 4 minutes in space through the civilian space travel programme organised by Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) in the Netherlands which will begin the first journey in 2014. Iwaki was invited to join the programme as he has been a longtime supporter of American watch brand Luminox which is a partner of the Luminox SXC SPACE ADVENTURE programme. Although he was offered the opportunity in 2011 and accepted it without thinking much, there was no further word on it until the company sent him a set of overalls and the contract this year to confirm his participation.
Iwaki will travel with the space shuttle pilot and another civilian passenger during the journey and has the opportunity to sit in the co-pilot seat. In preparation for the journey, Iwaki will take part in various training programmes such as moving in no-gravity surroundings and experiencing the speed and height as in a space shuttle.
During the press conference, Iwaki said that he initially thought that he wouldn't stand a chance to embark on this journey as a civilian so he is thrilled by the offer and would not give it up for anything. However, if anything happens during the journey, Iwaki revealed that he had already told his family about this and asked them not to worry since he will still become a star and look over them from the sky. Nonetheless, he has full faith in the programme and hopes to tell everyone about his experience when he returns successfully.