Dr. Koichi Wakata was born in 1963, in Saitama, Japan. He received B.S.in Aeronautical Engineering in 1987, M.S.in Applied Mechanics in 1989, and Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering in 2004, all from Kyushu University.
From April 1989 to May 1992, Dr. Wakata worked as an aircraft structural engineer for Japan Airlines.
In April 1992, Dr. Wakata was selected as an astronaut candidate by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA, currently Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). He started training in the 14th National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut class in August 1992 and was qualified as a Mission Specialist (MS) in August 1993. Dr. Wakata'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, ISS operations. During the STS-85 mission in August 1997, he supported the ground operation of NASDA's Manipulator Flight Demonstration payload. Dr. Wakata operated the robotics system on NASDA's Engineering Test Satellite VII in the tele-operation robotics experiments in March 1999. From December 2000, he has served as a NASA robotics instructor astronaut. In October 2001, Dr. Wakata started ISS Advanced Training for a long-duration flight. 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. In August 2006, Dr. Wakata started flight engineer training for Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He has logged over 2100 hours in a variety of aircraft.
In January, 1996, Dr. Wakata 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 (launched by a Japanese H-II rocket in March 1995), for the deployment and retrieval of the NASA OAST Flyer satellite, and for the support of the spacewalks. In October 2000, he 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.
From March to July, 2009, Dr. Wakata 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). His duties during the 4-1/2 flight included the installation of the S6 Truss, the final assembly of Kibo, a variety of experiment operation in science, engineering, art, and education, as well as ISS systems operation and maintenance. In addition, Dr. Wakata operated all of the current human space robotics systems - Canadarm on the Shuttle, Canadarm2, Dextre, and Kibo's robotic arm on the ISS. He became the first Japanese astronaut to fly aboard Soyuz TMA spacecraft during the Soyuz TMA-14 relocation on the ISS. Expedition 20 marked the first ISS expedition to expand the crew size from 3 to 6 members.
Astronaut Wakata served as the Chief of the Station Operations Branch of NASA's Astronaut Office from March 2010 until February 2011. He has assumed the role of JAXA astronaut corps leader since April 2010.
In February 2011, he was assigned as an ISS Expedition 38/39 crew member. Astronaut Wakata will serve as a Flight Engineer during the Expedition 38, and the commander during the Expedition 39. He will be the first Japanese astronaut to command the ISS. A veteran of three space flights, Dr. Wakata has logged a total of 159 days, 10 hours, 46 minutes and 5 seconds in space, and has logged more than 2,600 flight hours in aircrafts.
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