Japanese astronaut to command space station in March
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (REUTERS) - The first Japanese astronaut to live aboard the International Space Station is preparing for a return flight, this time to serve as commander, officials said on Wednesday.
Mr Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or Jaxa, is due to leave in November with a pair of veteran astronauts from the United States (US) and Russia.
Mr Wakata, 50, is expected to take command of the orbital research outpost in March, marking the first time a Japanese astronaut will lead a human space mission.
"It means a lot to Japan to have its own representative to command the International Space Station," Mr Wakata told a news conference broadcast from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.