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NASA Spotlight: Astronaut Soichi NoguchiSoichi Noguchi was selected as an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace…

NASA Spotlight: Astronaut Soichi NoguchiSoichi Noguchi was selected as an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace…

NASA Spotlight: Astronaut Soichi Noguchi

Soichi Noguchi was selected as an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in 1996. A native of Yokohama, Kanagawa, he is currently a mission specialist for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 launch taking flight to the International Space Station on Nov. 14. Soichi will be the first international crewmember on Crew Dragon and the first international partner astronaut to fly aboard three types of orbital spacecraft – the U.S. space shuttle, the Russian Soyuz, and now the SpaceX Crew Dragon! Talk about impressive.

He received a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering in 1989, master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1991, Doctor of Philosophy in Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies in 2020, all from the University of Tokyo.

Soichi took time from preparing for his historic mission to answer questions about his life and career: 

You recently earned a doctorate in philosophy.
What made you do it?

After my second flight, I started this research
about your sensory system in zero gravity. I used a my own personal video,
which I took during my last two flights at the International Space Station. I
had a lot of interesting discussions amongst young professionals and students
at the University of Tokyo about the research. It was a fun experience – but I
would not do it again!

Space is a risky business. Why do it?

Space IS definitely a risky business. But the
reward is higher than the risk so that’s why we take it.

Do you have a message for boys and girls in Japan
who are interested in science and engineering?

Three words: Space. Is. Waiting.

NASA Spotlight: Astronaut Soichi NoguchiSoichi Noguchi was selected as an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace…

Aside from mission objectives and tasks, what’s a
personal goal for this mission?

We have a lot of interesting missions to do, but my personal goal is to return
home with lots of fun stories.

NASA Spotlight: Astronaut Soichi NoguchiSoichi Noguchi was selected as an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace…

What was it like to get the phone call to become
an astronaut?

 It was 25 years ago, but I still remember the voice vividly. I got a call from
Dr. Mamoru Mohri, the very first JAXA astronaut, and he said “Welcome to the
Astronaut Corps.” When I got the call to be part of the Crew-1 mission, I was a
lot less nervous than when I was assigned to my first mission, but the
excitement remains the same.

Can you describe your crew mate Mike Hopkins in
one sentence?

He is a natural leader that takes care of the team really well, and he’s fun to
play around with.

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Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars… just because!

NASA Spotlight: Astronaut Soichi NoguchiSoichi Noguchi was selected as an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace…

Can you share
your favorite photo or video that you took in space?

My favorite photo is Mount Fuji because I see the mountain almost every day
when I was a child. It’s definitely breathtaking to see Mount Fuji from space.

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What personal
items did you decide to pack for launch and why?

I have lots of family photos, and I would put it inside my sleep station.
Definitely one of the most challenging things about spaceflight is not experiencing
zero gravity, not the rocket, but time away from family.

How would you
describe spacewalking outside the space station?

It’s an excursion. The view of the Earth is just breathtaking because you are
just one glass away from the vacuum of space. There’s nothing between you and
Earth.

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What are you
most excited about for the future of human space exploration?

I would say I’m most excited for interplanetary travel to become more common so
that the school kids can go to Mars on their field trip.

What would you say to someone looking to follow in
your footsteps?

Don’t worry, be happy!

How has spaceflight evolved since your first launch
and stay aboard the International Space Station in 2005?

This is definitely an exciting moment. We’re starting to see more players in
the game. SpaceX is the frontrunner, but soon we’ll see Boeing, Sierra Nevada
and Axiom. So the International Space Station will soon have more players
involved, and it will be a lot more fun!

Thank you for your time, Soichi, and good luck on your historic mission! Get to know a bit more about Soichi and his NASA astronaut crew mates Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, and Shannon Walker in the video above.

Watch LIVE launch coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 14 HERE.

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