Japanese astronauts determined to help build space station

Kyodo

Three Japanese astronauts said Monday they want to help construct the International Space Station.

“As Japanese, we want to make a contribution,” Naoko Yamazaki, one of the three, said after a ceremony at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Johnson Space Center in Texas before the start of training.

Yamazaki, 33, Satoshi Furukawa, 40, and Akihiko Hoshide, 35, were interviewed by Kyodo News via telephone.

Furukawa said that, for the time being, he will focus on his training but in the future hopes to be involved in other space missions. The three will continue training at the space center until December 2006.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency hired the three as astronauts for a stay on the International Space Station. But a delay in its construction has made it uncertain whether they will ever get the opportunity.