Japan’s space agency taps astronaut Akihiko Hoshide for International Space Station command


Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide will be onboard the International Space Station for about six months from around May 2020 and serve as its commander during the latter part of his stay, Japan’s space agency said Friday.

It will be the 49-year-old engineer’s third trip to space following his missions in 2008 and 2012, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). He will be the second Japanese commander of the ISS after Koichi Wakata, 54, who was tasked with the job for two months from March 2014.

Hoshide’s missions on the ISS have included the maintenance of facilities, conducting scientific experiments and manipulating the station’s robotic arm.

He will serve as the ISS commander for the final two months of his mission to ensure the safety of crew members and successful completion of their missions.

“In 2020, athletes from around the world will meet in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Hoshide said in a statement released by JAXA. “As the Commander … I also look forward to overcoming challenges, together with a team of extremely talented people, to expand our horizons for the benefit of present and future generations.”

His training to prepare for a lengthy stay in space is scheduled to begin around the fall of 2019, according to JAXA.

In June 2008, Hoshide installed on the ISS the pressurized module of the Japanese science laboratory unit Kibo by using the remote manipulator system and performed various activities, such as activating Kibo’s robotic arm, according to JAXA.

From July to November in 2012, he stayed aboard the ISS for 124 days as a flight engineer, conducting experiments in Kibo including raising Japanese killifish and engaging in the maintenance of the space station, among other things.

Currently, Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, 41, is onboard the ISS, and Soichi Noguchi, 52, another Japanese national, is scheduled to take part in ISS missions from late 2019.