Japan’s space agency announces first new astronauts since 2009
Tokyo, Feb 28 (EFE).- The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced its first new astronaut candidates since 2009 on Tuesday.
World Bank senior disaster risk reduction specialist Makoto Suwa, 46, and Japanese Red Cross Medical Center surgeon Ayu Yoneda, 28 were selected from a record 4,127 applicants in JAXA recruitment’s process conducted since April 2022.
They were selected as the most suitable candidates after passing a written, physical and practical exam as well as an interview.
Oer the next two years, Suwa and Yoneda will undergo basic training after which they will be certified as JAXA astronauts following an evaluation of their training, the agency said.
They will then be able to start participating in JAXA space missions, including activities on the International Space Station and the Moon orbiting Gateway station and other projects.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Yoneda said she had dreamed of being an astronaut since childhood ever since her father gave her a manga biography of Chiaki Mukai.
Mukai, 70, was the first Japanese woman to travel to space, on a mission with Pedro Duque from Spain and John Glenn of the United States.
Yoneda hoped that her medical career and experience would prove useful in the space race amid an expected increase in the number of visitors to space and longer duration missions.
She will be the third female JAXA astronaut, after Mukai and Naoko Yamazaki.
Suwa, who participated in the press conference online from Washington, is the oldest person to be chosen as a JAXA astronaut.
He told reporters that he was unable to sleep at night from excitement after receiving the news of his selection the day before.
He said that he had wanted to be an astronaut since he was little.
He said that although he hailed from Tokyo, he had spent his childhood in Tsukuba, which is known for its academic centers and dubbed the Science City.
He developed an interest in science and space after attending Expo 85 in the city in 1985 and having an opportunity to see former astronaut Eugene (Cernan), who traveled to the Moon on the Apollo mission. EFE