The International Space Station (ISS) project involves 15 countries, including the United Sates, Russia, Europe, and Canada. Japan is in charge of the development of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), also known as Kibo, which is Japan's first human space facility. The ISS is currently under construction 400 kilometers above the ground, and the assembly of Kibo is finally going to begin in 2008.
Kibo will be transported to the ISS on three separate Space Shuttle flights, with Astronaut Takao Doi on the first flight, Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide on the second, and Astronaut Koichi Wakata on the third. Astronaut Wakata is scheduled to stay on the ISS for about three months and conduct experiments and observations. The microgravity space environment will open the door to a variety of new opportunities for us, not only in the natural and life sciences, but also in education, art and commerce.