Japanese Astronaut Doi Takes Up UN Outer Space Post

Veteran Japanese astronaut Takao Doi to take up UN job
The Mainichi Daily News

Veteran Japanese astronaut Takao Doi will serve as a section chief at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna from autumn, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced.

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The Best of Times, the Worst of Times (Japan)

This should be the best of times in space for Japan. The first section of the nation’s Kibo module was successfully attached to the International Space Station last week. Videos of a smiling Takao Doi floating weightless in the new module were beamed down to a proud nation.

However, Japan finds itself at a bit of a crossroads. In an article titled Space development proves financial black hole, Yomiuri Shimbun staff writer Keiko Chino explores efforts by Japanese policymakers to chart a course for the country amid widespread discontent with falling government space spending and skepticism over its 1 trillion yen, 20-year investment in the space station.

The Liberal Democratic Party launched a full-scale review of space policy in February. Last year, the party submitted a bill calling for “the establishment of a space development strategy headquarters, to be chaired by the prime minister, to allow the country to conduct research aimed at industrial and security purposes,” Chino reports.

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Japanese Module Added to Space Station

Japanese Module

Japanese astronaut Takao Doi remarks on the opening of the the Japanese Logistics Module. Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson is at right. Credit: NASA TV

NASA PRESS RELEASE

Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson and Japanese astronaut Takao Doi were the first to enter the Japanese Logistics Module – Pressurized Section (JLP). Marking the beginning of Japan’s scientific work aboard the station, the new module was opened module at 9:23 p.m. EDT Friday. The STS-123 and Expedition 16 crews continue transferring supplies and equipment into the JLP from space shuttle Endeavour.

The JLP is the first component of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory.

Operating Canadarm2, the station’s robot arm, Mission Specialists Robert Behnken and Léopold Eyharts grabbed the shuttle’s boom sensor and handed it off to Endeavour’s robot arm in preparation for stowage on the station’s S1 truss later in the mission.

The station’s arm operators grappled the Canadian-built Dextre at 9:59 p.m. Friday. Canadarm2 successfully powered up Dextre 11 minutes later.

When Dextre was removed from Endeavour’s cargo bay after the shuttle docked to the station, ground teams ran into problems routing power to the pallet on which the robot is being assembled. The teams tried troubleshooting the problem with a software patch early Friday morning, but were not successful.

STS-123 Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan and Mike Foreman will spend the night in the station’s Quest Airlock in preparation for the second spacewalk of the mission, which begins Saturday. The purpose of this “camp out” is to purge the nitrogen from their bodies before their planned exit at 8:23 p.m. Saturday. Linnehan and Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman completed the mission’s first spacewalk early Friday morning.

Endeavour to Deliver Japanese Module, Canadian Robot to Space Station

When the space shuttle Endeavour lifts off next week, it will carry the first part of a sophisticated Japanese module as well as a Canadian robot to the International Space Station.

Japanese astronaut Takao Doi will help set up the Kibo, a storage module that is the first of three components of the Japanese Hope laboratory. The 4-meter (14-foot) long Kibo is built to fit eight racks of equipment.

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“It may feel a little bit small inside,” Doi said. “It’s a little bit bigger than a [small] walk-in closet.”

The seven-member crew also will deliver the Canadian Space Agency’s Dextre robot, which astronauts will use for maintenance purposes on the exterior of the space station. Astronauts inside the station or on the ground will be able to use the robot for routine tasks now done during spacewalks.

MSNBC has more information about Kibo, Dextre and the flight here and here.