Koichi Wakata becomes the next commander of the International Space Station (ISS), the first Japanese astronaut to ever hold the position.
The ISS completed Sunday the command transfer ceremony for the upcoming Expedition 39 mission. Following the departure of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata has been selected as the new commander of the space station. This will be the first time that a Japanese astronaut would serve as commander of the ISS.
During Wakata’s long-duration stays aboard the ISS as an Expedition mission member, he participated in several technical mission experiments, as well as demonstrating several publicly suggested zero gravity tests. Some of you may remember him as the “buddy” of a certain resident robot of the ISS.
The change of command was conducted last Sunday, March 09. Cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, along with mission members Michael Hopkins and Sergey Ryazansky was scheduled to depart the station a day after the ceremony. They will be replaced by Steve Swanson, Oleg Artemyev, and Alexander Skvortsov on March 25, who will join with Mr. Wakata along with the other remaining members for the Expedition 39 mission.