Japanese astronaut comes back down to earth with spacewalking record

Akihiko Hoshide, a Japanese astronaut from Tokyo returned to Earth yesterday having set a new record for spacewalks by a Japanese astronaut. His return in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft followed a four-month stint at the International Space Station.

Hoshide, 43, a Japanese engineer and astronaut from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), managed to complete three spacewalks to conduct repairs to the station, lasting a total of 21 hours and 23 minutes. The time he spent spacewalking surpasses that of the previous Japanese record-holder Soichi Noguchi, who spent 20 hours and five minutes walking in space.

This was the second mission for Hoshide after he completed his first journey into space three years ago. During this latest stay, he conducted experiments inside Japan‘s Kibo laboratory module, including releasing small satellites out into space and raising killifish.

Before undocking from the ISS, Hoshide sent a message to friends, family and fans on Twitter. He wrote “Thanks to all of you for your support. I’m glad I was born on this beautiful planet Earth”. He was joined by colleagues Yury Malenchenko of Russia and Sunita Williams of the USA. Their descent lasted three hours and they re-entered the atmosphere at an altitude of around 100 km above the Black Sea. They eventually parachuted down to land safely in a field in Kazakhstan. The Russian mission control said in a statement, “all the operations in leaving orbit and landing went smoothly. The crew members who returned to Earth are feeling well”. The three astronauts will now undergo 45 days of rehabilitation.

Hoshide’s contemporary, Koichi Wakata is set to break another national record next year when he will become the first Japanese person to serve as a captain on an ISS mission.

Sources include: Japan Times, Daily Yomiuri, The News Tribe

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