VOLUME 28 NO. 3 | JANUARY 10 - JANUARY 16, 2009


Astronaut reaches for the stars

Last updated 1-8-09 at 1:25 p.m.
Japan 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 grew up.

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. Hoshide’s 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 said.

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 info@nwasianweekly.com.

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