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JAXA Astronaut Activity Report

JAXA Astronaut Activity Report, December, 2015

Last Updated: February 10, 2016

This is JAXA’s Japanese astronaut activity report for December, 2015.

Astronaut Kimiya Yui returns to Earth, successfully accomplishing his ISS long-duration mission

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Yui just after landing (Credit: JAXA/NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin)

On December 11, astronaut Kimiya Yui returned to Earth after spending 142 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to complete the long-duration expedition 44/45 mission.

During his mission aboard the ISS, Yui spent busy days engaged in various activities for scientific experiments utilizing the Japanese Experiment Module ("Kibo"), installing new experiment hardware, conducting maintenance operations, supporting Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), and tweeting his daily life and thoughts, along with marvelous photos taken from space.

In August, when the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) "KOUNOTORI5" was launched, Yui became the first Japanese to have captured KOUNOTORI. Yui precisely manipulated the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) and thus made the mission a complete success.

After the successful berthing of KOUNOTORI5, Yui (as the loadmaster) headed the internal inspection, unloading and transfer of cargo, and storage control.

Yui also conducted as many as 21 JAXA experiments and obtained onboard data for medical experiments of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

He contributed to building a new utilization environment, including the installation and checkout of the Mouse Habitat Unit (MHU), installation of a new payload rack called Multi-purpose Small Payload Rack 2 (MSPR-2), and checkout of parts delivered for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) to be installed in the MSPR-2.

Duties for outboard utilization included the deployment of microsatellites (Cubesats) developed by universities in Japan and Brazil, and making preparations for attachment of the Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism 2 (ExHAM2).

On December 11 (Japan time), Yui and fellow crewmates Oleg Kononenko and Kjell Lindgren departed the ISS aboard the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft (43S) and landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan at 6:49 p.m. on the same day.

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Yui speaking at the post-flight press conference (Credit: JAXA)

At the first press conference after his return, held on December 21 at the JAXA Houston office, Yui appeared in good health to the press via a TV monitor.

Yui mentioned that he has too many thoughts to tweet regarding the importance of Earth-friendly environmental control technology, culture of mutual respect on the ISS, and Japan's importance among international partners, but hoped to discuss such matters at the mission reporting events to be held after he returns to Japan in February.

Astronaut Takuya Onishi joins 45S prime crew as a backup crew member

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45S prime (holding the 45S mission flag) and backup crews at a museum in the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Credit: JAXA/NASA/Victor Zelentsov)

Astronaut Takuya Onishi, who was assigned as a long-duration crew member for the ISS Expedition 44/45 mission, served as backup for the 45S prime crew right up until the launch of the Soyuz TMA-19 (45S) spacecraft on December 15.

In late November, the prime and backup crews of Expedition 46/47 moved separately from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

In Baikonur, both prime and backup crews worked on final launch preparations. They confirmed the onboard cargo and conducted a dress rehearsal to check the operability of hardware equipped in the actual Soyuz spacecraft. They also used a Soyuz simulator to confirm the manual operation procedures.

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At the launch site, Onishi and fellow backup members posing for a photo with the Soyuz rocket in the background (Credit: JAXA/NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Just before launch, the backup crew was dismissed from duty. The Soyuz spacecraft carrying the 45S prime crew was launched at 08:03 a.m. on December 15.

Onishi will continue training for his ISS long-duration mission, scheduled six months later.

Astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Akihiko Hoshide undergo flight piloting training

Astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Akihiko Hoshide underwent flight training at Oita airport aboard the Hawker Beechcraft Type G58 (Baron), a twin-engine plane owned by Honda Airways.

This training is intended to maintain and improve multitasking ability—one of the qualifications required of astronauts.

Prior to actual flight, Noguchi and Hoshide used a flight simulator to familiarize themselves with flying the aircraft, and attended lectures on meteorology and flight plans. They also confirmed the preflight inspection procedure and actually inspected the plane they were to use.

During the flight training, Noguchi and Hoshide each piloted the aircraft using only information shown on the instrumentation to determine the aircraft's attitude, altitude, position, and course, performed an aborted landing (go-around), and operated the aircraft in response to irregular conditions.

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi attends the 22nd Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum

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Noguchi moderating a session (Credit: JAXA)

From December 1-4, Astronaut Soichi Noguchi attended the 22nd Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-22) held in Bali, Indonesia. The 22nd APRSAF was co-hosted by Indonesia's Ministry of Research and Technology (RISTEK-DIKTI) and National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and JAXA.

A total of 478 participants from 28 countries and regions, including the representatives of 10 international organizations, attended APRSAF-22 under the overall theme of “Sharing Solutions through Synergy in Space,” with the aim of enhancing regional cooperation for promoting space utilization, advancing space technology development, and solving common agendas in the Asia-Pacific region.

Noguchi moderated a special session entitled "Regional Cooperation in Space Exploration" where representatives of Indonesia, Malaysia, NASA, and JAXA discussed the results of Kibo utilization and the importance of collaboration among Asian countries in the field of space exploration.

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