Astronaut reaches for the stars
Last updated 1-8-09 at 1:25 p.m.
Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide ‘floats’ aboard
the space shuttle Discovery.
Photo provided by The National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
“Are you looking for a plumber?”
These were the first words uttered by the crew
of the STS-124 shuttle Discovery to members of the International
Space Station (ISS) upon docking this past spring. The utterance
relates to problems with the bathroom on the ISS. One of the members
of the shuttle was a new crewmember, astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.
Hoshide visited Seattle to retell the story of
his travel to the ISS in front of a crowd at the Museum of Flight
on Dec. 6.
The program was coordinated by the Consulate General
of Japan in Seattle, the Japan-America Association of Seattle, and
the Museum of Flight. Hoshide and former NASA astronaut Dr. Bonnie
J. Dunbar answered questions from the audience and conducted an informative
and entertaining slideshow of their space travels.
For Hoshide, his May 31 launch to the ISS fulfilled
a lifelong dream. After a visit to the Kennedy Space Center as a
young boy, Hoshide knew that he wanted to be an astronaut when he
As a child, Hoshide looked up to his father, a
businessman. Hoshide remembers his father providing him with guidance
and instilling in him a work ethic needed to succeed.
Born in Tokyo, the 39-year-old engineer has been
an astronaut for nine years. Hoshide joined the National Space Development
Agency of Japan (NASDA) in 1992. He was selected by NASDA in February
1999 as one of three astronaut candidates for the ISS. He became
certified to travel to the ISS in 2001. Hoshide joined NASA in 2006
and was eventually chosen to be a part of the May 2008 mission.
The STS-124 shuttle was one of three flights that
launched components to the ISS to complete the Japanese Kibo Laboratory.
The purpose of the laboratory is to assist with
scientific experiments, which will help research back on Earth.
Hoshide assisted with the installation of an external
robotic arm and camera for the Kibo Laboratory.
In addition to his presentation at the museum,
earlier in the day, Hoshide spoke to elementary and middle school
students at the Seattle Japanese Language School.
Hoshide was happy to support the Seattle Japanese
Language School and share his story with the children.
message to young children: Follow your dreams and
be persistent in your pursuit of your dreams.
Admittedly, Hoshide was denied three times to train
with NASA. However, Hoshide kept trying and finally made it. He uses
himself as an example for children to keep following their goals
no matter the obstacles.
When asked by an audience member about the risks
of space flight, Hoshide responded, “I wasn’t nervous
at all.” According to Hoshide, this was due to the great training
at NASA and the confidence he had in his crewmembers.
Prior to the launch, he was joking with his crewmembers.
His first glance out the window from the shuttle
was of an amazing view of Earth. “There are some expectations
[of the view], but going up and experiencing it was much more than
expected,” he said.
Hoshide and his crewmates spent a total of 14 days
at the ISS before heading back to Earth. Hoshide
admits that he wished he could stay longer. “[I] felt sad about closing the hatch
[to the shuttle]. I wanted to be on the other side [inside the ISS],” he
Once the shuttle landed its wheels back on Earth,
Hoshide looked at his crewmates and told them that
he could not wait to go again. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.