February 14, 2014

Koichi Wakata

JAXA Astronaut, ISS Expedition 38 Flight Engineer

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Astronaut Koichi Wakata currently serves as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 38, and will be Commander for Expedition 39. He left Earth on board the Soyuz on November 6, 2013, and is due to return home in May 2014.


  • DOB: August 1, 1963
  • Birth Place: Saitama, Japan
  • Residence: Houston, Texas, USA
  • Family: He is married to Stephi and has a son, Akio.
  • Education: B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering, M.S. in Applied, Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering.
  • Hobbies: In his free time, Koichi enjoys hang-gliding, baseball, tennis, snow skiing, and flying.
  • Space Flights: STS-72; STS-92; STS-119; STS-127; Expeditions 18/19/20; Expeditions 38/39

    Work Experience

  • From 1989 to 1992, Koichi worked as an aircraft structural engineer for Japan Airlines.

  • In April 1992, Koichi was selected as an astronaut candidate by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA, currently Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). As they don’t have their own training program he moved to Houston to train with other NASA candidates.

  • Koichi's technical assignments at the NASA Astronaut Office to date include: Space Shuttle flight software verification, Space Shuttle payloads, the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" of the International Space Station (ISS), Space Shuttle and ISS robotics, Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), the on-orbit inspection systems of the Thermal Protection System as part of the Space Shuttle's return to flight activities, and ISS operations.

  • STS-85 (August 1997)
    During the STS-85 mission in August 1997, Koichi was the NASDA Assistant Payload Operations Director for the Manipulator Flight Demonstration, a robotic arm experiment for the Japanese Experiment Module of the ISS. Koichi operated the robotics system on NASDA's Engineering Test Satellite VII in the tele-operation robotics experiments in March 1999.

  • He was qualified as a NASA instructor astronaut for robotics in December 2000 and for EVA (space walks) in July 2008.

  • He served as the Chief of the Space Station Operations Branch of NASA's Astronaut Office from March 2010 to February 2011 as well as the Chief of the JAXA Astronaut Group from April 2010 to July 2012.

    Space Flight Experience

  • STS – 72 (January 1996)
    Koichi flew as the first Japanese Mission Specialist on STS-72 and performed several tasks including robotics operations for the retrieval of the Japanese Space Flyer Unit satellite for the deployment and retrieval of the NASA OAST Flyer satellite, and for the support of the spacewalks.

  • STS – 92 (October 200)
    Koichi became the first Japanese astronaut to work on the ISS assembly on STS-92, during which he was responsible for the robotics operations to install the Z-1 Truss and Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 to the ISS as well as to support the spacewalks.

  • In July 2006, he served as the Commander of the 10th NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission, an undersea expedition at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius habitat.

  • STS-119 and STS-127 (2J/A) and Expeditions 18, 19 and 20 (March – July 2009)
    Koichi flew as the first resident ISS crew member from Japan and served as a Flight Engineer and the JAXA Science Officer on the crews of Expeditions 18, 19 and 20 as well as a Mission Specialist on STS-119 and STS-127 (2J/A). He spent four-and-half months on board and operated all of the current human-space-robotics systems on the ISS. He became the first Japanese astronaut to fly aboard Soyuz TMA spacecraft on orbit. During his time on the station, he took part in experiments suggested by the public, including flying a "magic carpet", folding laundry and push ups.

    Current Mission: Expeditions 38/39 (Nov. 11, 2013 to May 2014)

  • In February 2011, Koichi was assigned as a Flight Engineer of ISS Expedition 38 and the Commander of Expedition 39. He will be the first Japanese astronaut to command the ISS.

  • This expedition will include research projects focusing on technology demonstration, cellular and plant biology, human health management for long duration space travel and maturing critical systems that currently support the International Space Station. There are two planned Russian spacewalks for Expedition 38: one in December 2013 and one in February 2014. Although now there are discussions of 3 planned emergency spacewalks.

  • A veteran of three space flights, Koichi has logged a total of 159 days, 10 hours, 46 minutes and 5 seconds in space.

  • He has logged over 2700 hours in a variety of aircraft.

  • He has never performed a spacewalk.

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