Naoko Yamazaki was born in 1970 in Matsudo City, Chiba. She received a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1993 and a master's degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1996, both from the University of Tokyo.
Yamazaki joined the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA, currently Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) in 1996 and was involved in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) system integration (developmental duty). She also worked on failure analysis and development of JEM assembly/initial operation procedures in the JEM Project Team. From June 1998 to March 2000, she was involved in development of the ISS Centrifuge (life science experiment facility) and conducted conceptual framework and preliminary design in the Centrifuge Project Team.
In February 1999, Yamazaki was selected by NASDA as one of three Japanese astronaut candidates for the International Space Station (ISS), together with Dr. Satoshi Furukawa and Akihiko Hoshide.
Yamazaki started NASDA's Basic Training program in April and was certified as an astronaut in September 2001.
From 2001, she participated in ISS Advanced Training, while working on development of the hardware and operation of the Kibo modules and the Centrifuge.
In May 2004, Yamazaki was certified as a Soyuz-TMA Flight Engineer. She was dispatched to NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in June 2004. She went through training (Astronaut Candidate Training) at JSC for about a year and eight months, and was qualified for flight assignments aboard the space shuttle as a Mission Specialist (MS) in Feb, 2006.
In November 2008, she was assigned as a crew member for the STS-131 (19A) mission.
In March 2010, she flew to the ISS aboard the space shuttle Discovery (STS-131). During the mission, she supported the mission's primary tasks by operating the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) and the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS). She also orchestrated cargo transfer activities between the space shuttle and the ISS as a loadmaster of the mission.
From December 2010, Yamazaki resumed her study in the field of aerospace engineering at the University of Tokyo.
In August 2011, she retired from JAXA.
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