Press Release


Astronaut Wakata's Assumption of the ISS Commander

March 9, 2014 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Astronaut Wakata Koichi, who is in his long-duration stay on board the ISS, has succeeded Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and become the 39th ISS Commander on March 9, 2014.

Wakata will take the leadership of the six ISS crewmembers until the day before he leaves the ISS on Soyuz spacecraft (37S/TMA-11M) scheduled around mid-May.

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Astronaut Wakata Koichi's Assumption of the ISS Commander

It is my great pleasure that Astronaut Wakata Koichi, who is in his long-duration stay on board the ISS, has succeeded Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and become the 39th ISS Commander on March 9, 2014.

The ISS Commander must take the great responsibility and high capability of crisis management for ensuring the crewmember's safety and the success of the ISS missions. I believe that Wakata's assumption of the ISS Commander results from his versatile skills and leadership he has performed through the ground training and the on-orbit experiences, and also from the trust the international society place in Japan which Japan has built in the course of the space development.

Wakata has "Wa" as his principle word of this long-duration stay. The word, meaning Japanese spirit of harmony, is one of the virtues that Japanese praise most. The ISS is a symbol of fifteen nations' international cooperation. I am certain that the Japanese will be in empathy with Wakata fulfilling his duty as the ISS Commander with the heart of "Wa".

On March 11, three years will have passed since Japan suffered from the tremendous damage caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. I hope that Wakata's unremitting challenge encourages the Japanese in reconstructing from the disaster, following the Olympic athletes who have showed us brilliant performances in Sochi.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (FSA), all other domestic and overseas organizations, and the individuals for their efforts and support. I appreciate your continuous cooperation with us.

Thank you,

March 9, 2014
Naoki Okumura
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Dear Mr. Miyake:

On March 9, 2014 for the first time in history, a Japanese astronaut, Dr. Koichi Wakata, will assume command of the International Space Station (ISS). On this very memorable occasion, I congratulate JAXA and the nation of Japan on this milestone in human space flight. It is a testament to the critical contributions by Japan to the ISS partnership and the strong ties amongst the 15 partner nations.

JAXA has developed a world-class orbiting laboratory, Kibo, and is conducting groundbreaking research. I am confident the research being conducted aboard the ISS will yield benefits for all humankind and the strong ties between our nations will help lead humanity in the exploration of space.


Michael T. Suffredini
Manager, International Space Station Program

Dear Dr. Miyake,

Please accept my sincere congratulations on the occasion of a successful conclusion of the thirty eighth long duration expedition of the International Space Station (ISS) and the beginning of work of the thirty ninth long duration expedition (ISS-39) on ISS.
For the first time on ISS the JAXA astronaut Mr. Koichi Wakata started fulfillment of duties as commander of station in expedition ISS-39 that is an important milestone on a way of expansion of partnership in the field of construction and operation of the ISS. This stage opens additional opportunities for implementation of the scientific program researches, including our joint experiments.
I wish optimism look at prospects of implementation of new joint projects and deepening of our cooperation.