Japan Announces First New Astronaut in 14 Years to Join Artemis Missions

Written By: Jay K.

Published: Tue, Feb 28, 2023 5:23 PM

Latest Update: Tue, Feb 28, 2023 5:23 PM

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced the selection of its first group of astronauts in 14 years who will participate in the ISS and Artemis programs.

On February 28, JAXA announced the selection of two new Astronaut candidates, joining JAXA's existing team from 2009. The two will join JAXA on April 1st when they will begin the rigorous training for both ISS and Lunar operations.

Meet The Candidates

Ayu Yoneda (age 28)

Ayu is the youngest astronaut in JAXA's astronaut core at just age 28. She was born in Tokyo in 1995, and graduated from the University of Tokyo School of Medicine 2019. Following graduation, she went on to work with the University of Tokyo Hospital just a month later. Yoneda worked with the hospital for 2 years, working through the COVID-19 pandemic through 2021 when he joined the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center where she is currently working.

“I was happy, surprised and felt determined by a sense of responsibility and duty,”, Yoneda said in Japanese at a press conference in Tokyo.

Makoto Suwa (age 46)

Makoto Suwa is a 46-year-old senior disaster risk reduction specialist at the World Bank, born in Tokyo in 1977. He completed his graduate studies in Earth Sciences at Princeton University in June 2007. Following that, he was dispatched to Rwanda by the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers in January 2008. In November 2010, Suwa joined the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), where he worked for several years before joining the World Bank in March 2014, where he has remained to the present. Throughout his career, Suwa has contributed his expertise to various fields, such as disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, making a positive impact on communities around the world. He is now taking his career to the cosmos as an astronaut for JAXA.

At the same press conference, Suwa, who joined remotely from Washington, said "I felt a great sense of responsibility when notified."

Once certified as Astronauts, Yoneda and Suwu will be eligible for missions to the International Space Station as well as to the moon as part of the Artemis program, of which JAXA is a partner of.

In April 2022, JAXA begun the astronaut selection process for its human spaceflight program, which was open for a 10-week window to accept applications. A total of 4,127 individuals applied for the program, out of which ten finalists, including eight men and two women, were selected for the final round of tests conducted in January and February of this year.

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