• Kyodo


Astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who is set to travel to the International Space Station later this week aboard a rocket developed by U.S. aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, said Tuesday he hopes the mission will inspire dreams for a “new future” amid difficult times brought by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Space flight itself is (marked with) a history of challenges. I hope it leads to the discovery of new possibilities and developments,” he said during a virtual news conference organized by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Admitting he was both nervous and excited about the upcoming launch aboard the Crew Dragon capsule on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the 55-year-old said, “There are risks and a fear of failure when challenging oneself but I believe the benefits far outweigh that fear.”

Noguchi will be among four astronauts, including crew commander Michael Hopkins, aboard the Crew Dragon capsule to be launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday.

He juxtaposed the mission to the Japanese hit manga and anime series “Demon Slayer,” in which astronauts use and maximize their “individual strengths” toward a “common goal.” The series follows the story of a boy who, along with his comrades, fights human-eating demons after his family is killed by them.

The crew will stay on the ISS for around six months, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi speaks during a news conference after he arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday. | AP
Astronaut Soichi Noguchi speaks during a news conference after he arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday. | AP

The launch of the spacecraft was initially set for October but was delayed after NASA cited the need for additional checks to the rocket.

The Crew Dragon will be the third type of spacecraft boarded by Noguchi, who previously was aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2005 and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for a 161-day stay on the ISS between 2009 and 2010.

He noted that the interior design by SpaceX was “modern, chic and efficient,” while the systems had been revamped to include touch panels as opposed to wires and switches. Its functionality was “simple but elegant” compared with the previous spacecraft, he added.

The mission comes in the wake of the first crewed test flight to the ISS by SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle. Two U.S. astronauts returned from the ISS in August aboard the capsule after a two-month mission.

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