Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata has been appointed as Axiom Space's chief technical officer for the Asia-Pacific region, according to the U.S. space infrastructure development company.

"We're honored and excited to have him join the team as a future commander of private astronaut missions, as well as a technical expert and leader, advancing commercial space development and promoting global partnership," Axiom's Chief Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria said in a news release from the company.

Wakata, 60, left the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) at the end of March after staying in space for 504 days, a record for Japanese astronauts, in five missions and becoming the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station.

Established in 2016, Axiom is planning to build a private space station to replace the aging ISS.

It has so far offered three ISS tours for civilians, in which astronauts who moved to Axiom after retiring from NASA served as commander.

At his final news conference as a JAXA astronaut, Wakata said, "From now on, I want to contribute to the development of manned space activities from the private sector by making use of my experience."