The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) would like to announce that Astronaut Koichi Wakata has been selected as a crewmember for the 38th/39th Expedition Mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Astronaut Wakata stayed at the ISS for about four months in 2009, and, after returning to Earth, he has been engaged in the ISS operations as the chief of ISS Operations Branch in NASA and also as the manager of the JAXA Astronaut Group, while he has been continuing his astronaut training.
Astronaut Wakata's leadership has been highly appraised and recognized domestically and internationally, thus he will exercise his capability as the first Japanese commander for the 39th ISS Expedition Mission.
JAXA President's Comment on the Selection of Astronaut Koichi Wakata as a Member of the ISS Expedition Crew
- Period of stay at the ISS:
About 6 months from the end of 2013
- Transportation means to the ISS:
Launch and return by Soyuz
- Major tasks at the ISS:
During the first four months for the 38th Expedition Mission, he will be in charge of ISS operations as a flight engineer, science experiments using the space environment, and system operations for the ISS facilities including the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo." For the 39th Expedition Mission (about two months), he will be the ISS commander in addition to the above duties. The responsibilities of the ISS commander are to ensure the safety of all ISS expedition crewmembers and to succeed in all missions.
- Astronaut Wakata's schedule until his departure:
He will begin training necessary for the Soyuz trip and ISS expedition missions in March 2011.
It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to introduce Astronaut Koichi Wakata to you as a Japanese astronaut to be assigned to stay at the International Space Station (ISS) for a prolonged period. This is the fifth assignment for the Japanese astronaut to reside at the ISS.
Astronaut Wakata was the first Japanese astronaut to stay at the ISS for an expedition mission. He successfully achieved his manned space activities of about four and half months during which he contributed to completing the assembly of Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" of the ISS in July 2008. His achievements were highly praised and recognized domestically and internationally, thus he was assigned as the chief of ISS Operations Branch in NASA after he returned to the Earth as his leadership exhibited during his expedition was highly evaluated.
Astronaut Wakata will be the first Japanese ISS commander, and I firmly believe that he will fulfill such an important role based on his abundant experience and trustworthiness.
I would like to express my profound appreciation to all people and parties concerned in the selection this time.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Determination to Become Expedition Crew
I am very honored yet also feel the heavy responsibility for being selected as a flight engineer for the 38th Expedition Mission as well as a commander for the 39th mission.
Astronauts Satoshi Furukawa and Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide are also slated for staying at the ISS for about six months from the end of May this year and June next year, respectively.
Japan has been steadily increasing its significance and contributions to the ISS project. The KOUNOTORI2, a cargo transporter to the ISS, successfully arrived at the ISS at the end of last month to carry necessary materials for ISS operations. The mission control team and researchers at the Tsukuba Space Center have also attained substantial achievements through the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo."
I am resolved to earnestly engage in preparation and training for space flight so that I will optimize my space expedition and utilization of the ISS based on my training and previous space flight experiences, as well as knowledge I acquired through JAXA's and NASA's management operations.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all people who have worked hard for my selection and who have been supporting me.