On March 13, from 6 p.m.-7 p.m., a communication event was held connecting JAXA Flight Controllers in the Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC) and the Australian Air League, a youth organization for children who are interested in aviation in Australia. From JAXA Flight Controllers, Flight Directors Akio Koike and Yurika Nakano participated in the event.
This event was realized by the Air League’s earnest request whose cadets had spoken with JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata aboard the ISS via amateur radio in February, 2014. The event with Wakata sparked much interest in space within the Air League, and now they had an opportunity to speak and ask space related questions to the JAXA Flight Controllers.
At the beginning of the communication event, Flight Controllers introduced the ISS, the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo," and ISS partners briefly. Then there was a Q&A session. A wide variety of questions including flight controllers’ job, Japanese asteroid probe, as well as general space questions and rocket materials were asked by cadets. Flight Controllers courteously answered each question using images and videos.
Here is one example of the Q&As.
Q: What do you have to do to become a mission controller?
A: To be a mission controller or a flight controller, it takes about one year to two years. We can divide the course of training in two groups. The first is the course so called “classroom learning,” learning by yourself. It’s just like going to school or cram school, and we have special classrooms, and we take them and learn about the systems on the ISS. Then we have many books and learning materials we have to look through and learn. After that, we have to take a paper test to be certified about our knowledge about the system. Also, in Japan, we have a test for English. Since we are non-native English speakers, we usually communicate in Japanese, but under the ISS program, we have to talk in English. Secondly, this is the most interesting part of the training; we call it “simulation training.” We have a room that looks very much like the mission control room. This is the special room where we get trained. Simulation training team gives us very difficult tasks such as breaking down one of the power boxes or losing communication with one of the most important computers onboard. We flight controllers need to be able to fix these things. We have about ten simulations we have to take, and a simulation can last many hours. We have a lot of tests after the training. But the most important thing is listening to others and the ability to communicate with others as well as teamwork. And those are something that cannot be learned in the classroom training. Those parts we learn during simulation. We cooperate with everyone in the team to keep astronauts safe.
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