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
International

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth pulls off epic photobomb

The selfie / photobomb has gone viral.

Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Entertainment

'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' game easter eggs and cheats

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. Here are its best easter eggs as well as some tips and tricks to speed your way to the top.

Television

Kacy Catanzaro credits mind over body in "American…

Kacy Catanzaro credits her victory to mental focus and upper body strength.

Entertainment

Q&A: The brains behind 'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood'

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. We talked with Christopher Locke of Glu Canada to find out more about developing the game.

Movies

The 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer is…

Watch 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…