May 20, 2014

Reconsider Japan's space program

As budget pressures become more competitive, it will be up to Japan's experts and taxpayers to consider what approach will best serve the nation's needs for space exploration — not bureaucrats and politicians.

Wakata back on Earth after stint as ISS commander

May 14, 2014

Wakata back on Earth after stint as ISS commander

Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station, returned to Earth on Wednesday after completing a six-month mission. Wakata, 50, landed in Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft after handing his duties as ISS commander, which he assumed in March, to ...

Wakata hands over command of space station

May 13, 2014

Wakata hands over command of space station

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata passed the title of commander of the International Space Station to U.S. astronaut Steven Swanson early Monday and prepared to return to Earth. He spent 66 days in the role, marking a first for any astronaut from Asia. “I had ...

ISS skipper plays 'sho' in space

May 4, 2014

ISS skipper plays 'sho' in space

A group of students played ancient Japanese court music with the captain of the International Space Station early Saturday morning as part of a NASA school education program. Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, 50, played a reed instrument known as the “sho” with around 10 ...

'Sakura from space' blooms early

Apr 11, 2014

'Sakura from space' blooms early

by Shigemi Sato

A cosmic mystery is uniting monks and scientists after a cherry tree grown from a seed that orbited the Earth for eight months bloomed years earlier than expected — and with an unusual number of flowers. The four-year-old sapling — grown from a cherry ...

Apr 11, 2014

ISS chief in Japan-U.S. 'tweetup'

A rare “tweetup” — a meeting of people who know each other on Twitter — involving an ambassador, an astronaut and a prime minister, has taken place on a video-link between Japan and the International Space Station. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Ambassador ...

Kirobo put through its paces on ISS

Dec 20, 2013

Kirobo put through its paces on ISS

The first humanoid robot in space with speech capability made small talk with astronaut Koichi Wakata and said it had no problem with zero-gravity on the International Space Station. Footage released by the its developers Friday showed Kirobo performing its first mission on the ...

Rocket blasts off for ISS carrying Olympic torch

Nov 7, 2013

Rocket blasts off for ISS carrying Olympic torch

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying astronauts from Russia, Japan and the United States bound for the International Space Station successfully lifted off on a rocket Thursday from a launch site in Kazakhstan. The 50-meter-high, three-stage rocket with the spacecraft carrying Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, 50, ...

Wakata to depart for ISS on Nov. 7, take command

Oct 18, 2013

Wakata to depart for ISS on Nov. 7, take command

Astronaut Koichi Wakata is set to ride a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station, where he will do a six-month stint as its first Japanese skipper, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Thursday. Wakata, 50, and two colleagues, from Russia and the ...