STAR CITY (Moscow region), October 23 (RIA Novosti) – The first-ever Japanese commander of the International Space Station said he plans to treat fellow residents at the orbital outpost to traditional Japanese food, including sushi.
JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio are scheduled to blast off on the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft on November 7 for a 190-day mission at the space station as part of Expedition 38/Expedition 39.
Wakata will take over command of the space station from Russia’s Oleg Kotov in March 2014 to lead Expedition 39 through till May.
“A space freighter will deliver a wide variety of Japanese food to orbit, and I can’t wait to share it with my colleagues at the ISS,” Wakata said during a pre-launch news conference at Russia's space training center in Star City, outside Moscow.
This will not be the first time sushi reaches low Earth orbit. JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi in 2010 demonstrated his sushi-making skills in a video beamed back home.
Wakata, 50, is a veteran of four NASA Space Shuttle missions and a long-duration stay onboard the space station in 2009.
Wakata said he will not attempt to instill any specific Japanese traditions during his stint as ISS commander.
“A key point for me is having a good rapport between crew members and stable communications with Earth,” Wakata said.
The incoming space station crew will oversee the docking of a Russian MLM module, unload several Progress space freighters, attach a European robotic arm to the Russian segment of the station and carry out a variety of scientific experiments.