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In December 1990, journalist Toyohiro Akiyama made headlines the world over when he blasted off aboard a Soviet rocket to become the very first “space correspondent” in history.

The Soyuz capsule with the 47-year-old Tokyo Broadcasting System reporter strapped inside later docked with the Mir space station as part of an unprecedented $10 million (¥1.5 billion) deal between the USSR’s cash-starved space agency and the ratings-hungry private TV network.

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