First-Ever Japanese ISS Commander: Koichi Wakata in Space!

Koichi Wakata in Space -

Updates from Low Earth Orbit
JAXA Astronaut Koichi Wakata (Wiki here) is an excellent space resource. From his International Space Station residence 250 miles (400km) above the earth, he broadcasts entertaining and informative Tweets, photos, and in cooperation with other crew members and JAXA staff here on the ground, produces weekly, bi-lingual YouTube updates.

Weekly Video Updates and Ongoing Coverage: Koichi Wakata in Space!

Today's Special Episode:
Astronaut Wakata Assumes Command of the International Space Station 

Yesterday, in an as-formal-as-can-be ceremony aboard the ISS with all 6 current crew members wearing their best space onesies, along with telepresence from Houston and Tsukuba (that's the J-Houston), Astronaut Koichi Wakata assumed command of the Internation Space Station.

Succeeding ISS Mission 38 Commander, Russian Cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, Astronaut Commander Wakata is the first Japanese astronaut to serve in this capacity. As is tradition on the ISS, and very necessary given the usual 6-month maximum stay in low earth orbit, he will serve as commander for approximately 2.5 months until the conclusion of Mission 39 - the day before his return to Earth in May.

AkihabaraNews extends sincere congratulations to Astronaut Commander Wakata. To tell the rest of the story, we'll defer to JAXA president Naoki Okamura:

"It is my great pleasure that Astronaut Wakata Koichi, who is in his long-duration stay on board the ISS, has succeeded Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and become the 39th ISS Commander on March 9, 2014.

The ISS Commander must take the great responsibility and high capability of crisis management for ensuring the crewmember's safety and the success of the ISS missions. I believe that Wakata's assumption of the ISS Commander results from his versatile skills and leadership he has performed through the ground training and the on-orbit experiences, and also from the trust the international society place in Japan which Japan has built in the course of the space development.

Wakata has "Wa" as his principle word of this long-duration stay. The word, meaning Japanese spirit of harmony, is one of the virtues that Japanese praise most. The ISS is a symbol of fifteen nations' international cooperation. I am certain that the Japanese will be in empathy with Wakata fulfilling his duty as the ISS Commander with the heart of "Wa".

On March 11, three years will have passed since Japan suffered from the tremendous damage caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. I hope that Wakata's unremitting challenge encourages the Japanese in reconstructing from the disaster, following the Olympic athletes who have showed us brilliant performances in Sochi.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (FSA), all other domestic and overseas organizations, and the individuals for their efforts and support. I appreciate your continuous cooperation with us."

Thank you,

March 9, 2014
Naoki Okumura
President Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

We'll continue bringing you Astronaut Commander Koichi Wakata's weekly updates, and through his always informative and entertaining video updates, we hope to learn more about what it means to command the International Space Station.

Images & Stuff: JAXA; NASA; Koichi Wakata

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