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Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide urges Japan to lead international space missions

JIJI

Japan should lead international space missions, Akihiko Hoshide, an astronaut at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, has said.

“Japan is responsible for playing a central role in some fields,” Hoshide said at an event hosted by Jiji Press in New York on Friday. “Japan should be well aware of its position as an advanced country in space exploration,” he said.

In the International Space Station project, Japan completed its Kibo experimental module in 2009. “After steadily operating Kibo for 10 years, Japan is now recognized as a reliable partner by NASA,” Hoshide said.

Noting that the precise control technology used in Japan’s Kounotori unmanned cargo spacecraft has been adopted for U.S. private-sector spacecraft, Hoshide said, “It’s not enough for Japan to say only that it has become an equal partner.”

He also stressed the need to consider joint operations of Kibo by the public and private sectors, instead of by JAXA, a Japanese government-affiliated body, alone.

Hoshide took his first space flight in 2008. In 2012, he stayed at the ISS for some four months.

He is slated to take his third space flight in 2020, serving as ISS commander for a long-term mission.

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