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
Assistant Managing Editor

Clara Moskowitz is a science and space writer who joined the Space.com team in 2008 and served as Assistant Managing Editor from 2011 to 2013. 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. She covers everything from astronomy to human spaceflight and once aced a NASTAR suborbital spaceflight training program for space missions. Clara is currently Associate Editor of Scientific American. To see her latest project is, follow Clara on Twitter.