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Japanese astronaut takes command of International Space Station for first time

Published on Mar 10, 2014 12:49 AM
This undated handout picture released from KIBO Robot Project on December 20, 2013 shows Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata smiling with the humanoid robot "Kirobo" in the International Space Station (ISS) in space. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

CAPE CANAVERAL (Reuters) - Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata assumed command of the International Space Station on Sunday, the first Japanese national to oversee a manned space mission.

Mr Wakata, 50, had been a space station flight engineer since he and two crew mates arrived on Nov 7.

"I am humbled to assume the command of the space station," Mr Wakata said during a change-of-command ceremony broadcast on Nasa Television.

Outgoing station commander Oleg Kotov, flight engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy, both from Russia, and Nasa astronaut Mike Hopkins are due to depart the orbital outpost on Monday. Their replacements arrive on March 26.

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