Astronaut Kimiya Yui, who returned to Earth in December after a five-month stay on the International Space Station, now says he is ready to go to the red planet.
“I’m good for a Mars mission,” Yui, 46, said in a recent interview, noting he underwent testing for a potential mission there immediately after his stay on the ISS.
“My health condition is perfect. I took part in an experiment aimed at preventing muscles from weakening even without frequent physical exercise,” he said. “Thanks to progress in technology, parts of my muscles are stronger than before the ISS mission.”
The test, which simulates a landing on Mars, showed his sense of balance had recovered.
“I was the first person to clear all the items in the test,” Yui said, adding, “I think I’m suitable for a Mars mission.”
As for the ISS mission, which included his first space flight, Yui said: “The rocket launch was unexpectedly smooth and quiet. I got excited the moment I became weightless. Hand in hand, my two fellow astronauts and I shared the joy of the moment.”
Asked whether he felt nervous when he was docking the ISS with the Kounotori 5 unmanned cargo spacecraft in August, Yui said he thought everything would be all right because he had fully prepared for the moment.
But he added he really felt “relieved” once he had successfully used the space station’s robotic arm to gain control of the transport, noting the importance of the “national project.”
Yui said he worked hard on his experiments during the mission.
“I tried to collect the best possible data,” he said, noting that Japan’s Kibo research module is set up to conduct a vast array of experiments.
From April, Yui will work to help improve the Kounotori and by making the spacecraft more efficient.
“Development requires the viewpoint of astronauts,” he said, adding, “I want to provide detailed feedback about my experience.”