Training Underway for Two Newly Selected JAXA Astronaut Candidates

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Astronaut candidates Ayu Yoneda, left, and Makoto Suwa receive basic training at the Tsukuba Space Center in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Wednesday.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency opened to the press the basic training of two astronaut candidates, who were selected in February last year, at the Tsukuba Space Center in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Wednesday.

Ayu Yoneda, 28, a former surgeon at the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center, joined JAXA in April last year. Makoto Suwa, 47, a former senior disaster risk management specialist at the World Bank, did so last July. Since then, they have been receiving basic training, which ranges from learning Russian and other foreign languages, to training on how to pilot aircraft and acquiring expertise necessary for activities on the International Space Station.

On Wednesday, their physical fitness training was shown to the press. With the guidance of a trainer, they worked out vigorously using rowing machines and dumbbells, with sweat pouring down their foreheads while smiling from time to time.

The basic training is planned to end by around November. After that, the two candidates are expected to be officially recognized as astronauts.

Dressed in a blue flight suit worn by JAXA astronauts at the space agency’s official events, Yoneda said, “The reality that I am a candidate has sunk in.”

Suwa said, “I want to train properly and build up my confidence as an astronaut.”