A Japanese billionaire has set out to became the first space tourist in more than a decade to travel to the International Space Station (ISS).

Yusaku Maezawa blasted off on a voyage he sees as a dry run for his planned trip around the moon with Elon Musk's SpaceX in 2023.

The 46-year-old fashion magnate and art collector successfully launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan along with his assistant Yozo Hirano, who will document the journey, as well as Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

Mr Maezawa, a space enthusiast, has been training for the journey for months.

Yusaku Maezawa (L) headed into space with Yozo Hirano (R) and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin

He has become a household name in Japan thanks to his fondness of private jets, celebrity girlfriends and cash giveaways to Twitter followers, in a country known for its conformist corporate culture.

He plans to upload footage of his flight to his YouTube channel, which has 795,000 followers.

The rocket successfully launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

Mr Maezawa has called on his supporters to give him 100 ideas of things to do in space, and said he plans to play badminton aboard the ISS.

The cost of the trip was not disclosed but some reports have put the price tag for tourist space flights as high as €44 million.

Mr Maezawa is also set to become the first private passenger on the SpaceX moon trip and has begun searching for eight people to join him, requiring applicants to pass medical tests and an interview.