Japanese astronaut to command space station in March

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata is seen on a monitor during a training exercise in a cetrifuge at the Star City space centre outside Moscow, August 9, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Remezov
Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata is seen on a monitor during a training exercise in a cetrifuge at the Star City space centre outside Moscow, August 9, 2013. / Sergei Remezov

The first Japanese astronaut to live aboard the International Space Station is preparing for a return flight, this time to serve as commander, officials said on Wednesday.

Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, is due to leave in November with a pair of veteran astronauts from the United States and Russia.

Wakata, 50, is expected to take command of the orbital research outpost in March, marking the first time a Japanese astronaut will lead a human space mission.

“It means a lot to Japan to have its own representative to command the International Space Station,” Wakata told a news conference broadcast from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“It’s a big milestone for Japan … to have this experience,” he said.

In 2009, Wakata became the first astronaut from Japan to live aboard the $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 250 miles above Earth.

Japan, one of 15 nations participating in the project, provided the station’s largest and most elaborate laboratory, named Kibo, as well as cargo resupply ships.

Wakata, who was part of two missions on NASA’s now-retired space shuttles, is training for his fourth flight along with NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, both 53.

Mastracchio, a veteran of three shuttle missions and one of NASA’s most experienced spacewalkers, will be making his first long-duration flight. Tyurin will be living aboard the station for a third time.

Command of the station typically rotates between a U.S. astronaut and Russian cosmonaut. In 2009, Belgium astronaut Frank De Winne became the first European to command the station. Canada’s first commander, Chris Hadfield, was in charge from March until May.

Wakata, a native of Saitama, Japan, holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, a master’s in applied mechanics and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Kyushu University. Before being selected as an astronaut in 1992, he worked as an aircraft structural engineer for Japan Airlines.

Wakata’s first two spaceflights, in January 1996 and October 2000, were aboard NASA space shuttles. He was Japan’s first live-aboard space station resident from March to July 2009. Upon returning to the station in November, Wakata will serve as a flight engineer before taking over command in March.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.

News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.