Press Release


Astronaut Koichi Wakata Selected
as Member of ISS Expedition Crew

February 17, 2011 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

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.

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.

Attached reference:
Brief Personal History of Astronaut Wakata
Onboard Plan of Japanese Astronauts
JAXA President's Comment
Determination to Become Expedition Crew/Koichi Wakata

Reference Link:
International Space Station/ Kibo website:

Brief Personal History of Astronaut Koichi Wakata

Koichi Wakata

JAXA Astronaut
47 years old (as of February 17, 2011)

Total flight and space expedition time:
Total space stay amounts to 159 days, 10 hours and 46 minutes by combining three space flights in 1996, 2000, and 2009.

1963 Born in city of Saitama (then city of Omiya), Saitama, Japan
1987 Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Kyushu University
1989 Master of Science degree in applied mechanics from Kyushu University
April 1992 Selected as an astronaut candidate
August 1992 Started astronaut candidate training.
August 1993 Certified as an astronaut.
Jan. 11 thru 20, 1996 Flew on the STS-72 Endeavour mission as the first Japanese Mission Specialist (MS) during which Astronaut Wakata retrieved the Japanese Space Flyer Unit (launched by H-II Launch Vehicle in March 1995).
Oct. 12 thru 25, 2000 Flew on the STS-92 Discovery mission as an MS during which Astronaut Wakata was in charge of manipulating the robotic arm (SRMS) for assembling the ISS.
2004 Doctorate in aerospace engineering from Kyushu University.
July 22 thru 28, 2006 Commander for the 10th NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Aquarius underwater laboratory.
March thru July 2009   Flight engineer and person in charge of JAXA scientific experiments for the 18th/19th ISS Expedition Mission; also an MS for the STS-119 and STS127 missions. He also performed orbit flight by Soyuz TMA-14.
July 2009 Attached the Kibo’s Exposed Facility for the 2J/A(STS-127) to complete the Kibo assembly and completed his stay in space of about four months.
March 2010 Assumed the post of the chief of ISS Operations Branch in NASA
April 2010 Assigned as the manager of the JAXA Astronaut Group

JAXA President's Comment on the Selection of Astronaut Koichi Wakata
as a Member of the ISS Expedition Crew

February 17, 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.

Keiji Tachikawa
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Determination to Become Expedition Crew

Koichi Wakata

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.

Koichi Wakata
JAXA Astronaut