Human Space Activities / Utilization of the Space Environment Astronauts

About JAXA's Astronauts

It has been over 20 years since Mamoru Mohri, who is the first Japanese to travel to space on the Space Shuttle, went to space in Sept. 1992.
During these years, many Japanese astronauts have made various achievements including Astronauts MUKAI Chiaki, WAKATA Koichi, DOI Takao, NOGUCHI Soichi, HOSHIDE Akihiko, YAMAZAKI Naoko, and FURUKAWA Satoshi. Recently, Astronaut Wakata stayed at the International Space Station as a crew member of the Expedition 38/39 crew between Nov. 2013 thru May 2014, and he led the team as the first Japanese ISS commander during the latter half of his stay, Expedition 39.
In July 2011, three JAXA astronauts, YUI Kimiya, ONISHI Takuya, and KANAI Norishige, were certified as ISS astronauts. Astronaut Yui completed his first ISS expedition mission between July 23 and Dec. 11, 2015, and Astronaut Onishi and Astronaut Kanai are also assigned to a long-stay mission at the ISS in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Astronauts' Tasks

JAXA astronauts have been contributing to the ISS project through assembly work of the ISS and the Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module, and have accumulated experience and knowledge. By utilizing these skills, the astronauts mainly perform the following tasks while they stay at the ISS.

Experiments and research

Space experiments utilizing the environment that is different from Earth such as microgravity and high vacuum.

Operation and maintenance of ISS and Kibo

Maintaining the ISS systems including those for electricity, communications, environment control, and experiment support. Repairing and maintaining the ISS.

Robotic arm operation

Using the ISS and Kibo robotic arms, installation, exchange and repair of experiment instruments and test materials are conducted. The arms are also used for capturing rendezvous and berth type spacecrafts such as the KOUNOTORI and Cygnus.

Extravehicular activities (with space suit on)

To carry out some repair and maintenance work on the ISS as well as experiments that cannot be conducted by a robotic arm.

How to Become an Astronaut

Selection of Astronaut Candidates

Needless to say, astronauts need to have expert knowledge of science and technology. In addition, they are required to be fluent in English, in order to communicate with astronauts from different countries who live and work with them. Astronauts have been selected based on the screening of application documents; a series of written exams on the English language, general and specialized knowledge of natural science, interviews, and medical and psychological examinations.

Training of Astronaut

After being selected, astronaut candidates undergo Basic Training. They obtain basic knowledge and technical skills in space engineering, space science, space medicine, the Space Shuttle and ISS systems, the English and Russian languages. They also receive flight training and physical training. Upon completion of Basic Training, they are officially certified as astronauts and receive more advanced training in the operation of spacecraft systems and experimental equipment, as well as training to work in space. They also continue with language instruction, flight training, and physical training.
After assignment to a specific ISS mission, astronauts receive training in the specific tasks to be conducted during launch, in orbit, and on return, and participate in simulation training along with other astronauts and flight controllers.
So far, those training sessions have been conducted mainly by NASA;
but for participation in the ISS, Japanese astronauts, training sessions will be conducted mainly at JAXA.

Summary of Japan-related missions and flight results

As of May, 2017
MissionMission period
MS-07/53S Astronaut Kanai to fly Expedition 54/55 12/19/2017 - 6/3/2018 (scheduled)
MS-01/47S Astronaut Onishi to fly Expedition 48/49 7/7 - 10/30/2016
TMA-17M/43S Astronaut Yui to fly Expedition 44/45 7/23 - 12/11/2015
TMA-11M/37S Astronaut Wakana to fly Expedition 38/39 11/7/2013 - 5/14/2014
TMA-05M(31S) Astronaut Hoshide to fly Expedition 32/33 7/15 - 11/19/2012
TMA-02M(27S) Astronaut Furukawa to fly Expedition 28/29 6/8 - 11/22/2011
STS-131 Astronaut Yamazaki, ISS Assembly Flight 19A to fly STS-131 4/5 - 4/20/2010
TMA-17(21S) Astronaut Noguchi, Expedition 22/23, by Soyuz (21S/TMA-17) 12/21/2009 - 6/2/2010
STS-127(2J/A) Astronaut Wakata, ISS Assembly Flight 2J/A, by Space Shuttle Endeavour 7/16 - 7/31/2009
STS-119 Astronaut Wakata, ISS Assembly Flight 15A, by Space Shuttle Discovery (Expedition 18/19/20) 3/16 - 3/26/2009
STS-124(1J) Astronaut Hoshide, ISS Assembly Flight 1J, by Space Shuttle Discovery 6/1 - 6/15/2008
STS-123(1J/A) Astronaut Doi, ISS Assembly Flight 1J/A, by Space Shuttle Endeavour 3/11 - 3/27/2008
STS-114 Astronaut Noguchi, ISS Assembly Flight LF1, by Space Shuttle Discovery 7/26 - 8/9/2005
STS-92 Astronaut Wakata, ISS Assembly Flight 3A, by Space Shuttle Discovery 10/12 - 10/25/2000
STS-99 Astronaut Mohri, Second Shuttle Flight, by Space Shuttle Endeavour 2/12 - 2/23/2000
STS-95 Astronaut Mukai, Second Shuttle Flight, by Space Shuttle Discovery 10/30 - 11/8/1998
STS-87 Astronaut Doi, Japan's First EVA, by Space Shuttle Columbia 11/20 - 12/5/1997
STS-72 Astronaut Wakata, First Mission Specialist of Japan, by Space Shuttle Endeavour 1/11 - 1/20/1996
STS-65 Astronaut Mukai, Second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2), by Space Shuttle Columbia 7/9 - 7/23/1994
STS-47 Astronaut Mohri, Fuwatto '92 (First Material Processing Test/FMPT), by Space Shuttle Endeavour 9/12 - 9/20/1992