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Japan Selects Two New Astronaut Candidates

Japan Selects Two New Astronaut Candidates
The two new Japanese astronaut candidates: Kimiya Yui, on left, and Takuya Onishi, on right. (Image credit: JAXA)

Japan has selected two new astronaut candidates to jointheir corps of eight spaceflyers preparing for future trips to theInternational Space Station.

The two new Japanese candidates, Takuya Onishi and KimiyaYui, must go through two years of NASA astronaut candidate training to be certifiedas astronauts for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). They will thenbegin mission-specific training for stints onboard the space station of up tosix months, where they will work on regular ISS maintenance and experiments inthe JapaneseExperiment Module "Kibo."

Onishi, 33 years old, is a pilot at All Nippon Airways.Yui, 39 years old, is a lieutenant colonel in the Japan Air Self Defense Force.

Meanwhile, veteran JAXA spaceflyer KoichiWakata, is set to fly aboard the space shuttle Discovery assoon as next week to join the International Space Station's Expedition 18as a flight engineer. Wakata is Japan's first long-duration astronaut and willoversee operations aboard the station?s Japanese-builtKibo laboratory.

JAXA is also preparing for the inaugural launch of itsfirst Japanese-built H-2 Transfer Vehicle, an unmanned cargo ship to haul freshsupplies to the International Space Station. That spacecraft is slated tolaunch in September 2009.

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Clara Moskowitz
Clara has been SPACE.com's Assistant Managing Editor since 2011, and has been writing for SPACE.com and LiveScience since 2008. Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what her latest project is, you can follow Clara on Google+.