Russia says all systems go for ‘Dice-K’

NEW YORK (Kyodo) Businessman Daisuke “Dice-K” Enomoto has won Russian approval to begin cosmonaut training in preparation for a trip to the International Space Station in September, Space Adventures Ltd. announced Monday.

The U.S. space tourism company in Arlington, Va., said Enomoto has been certified as an orbital spaceflight candidate by the Russian Federal Space Agency.

The firm also announced the signing of a final contract for a flight on the Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft to the ISS by Enomoto, an investor and former executive of Internet services firm Livedoor Co.

“The first phase of training will include cosmonaut theoretical and physical training, along with Russian-language tutoring,” Space Adventures said.

Enomoto, 34, a native of Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, has said he will take a 10-day trip from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the ISS as the fourth private citizen and the first from Japan.

“We look forward to his launch in September, when his dream of spaceflight will be realized,” Space Adventures President and CEO Eric Anderson said.

The trip will cost Enomoto $20 million.

Enomoto made a fortune by selling his information technology business to Livedoor President Takafumi Horie, who is now facing trial for alleged market-rigging and accounting fraud.

Enomoto currently works as an independent investor out of Hong Kong.