1. Home
  2. JAXA Astronauts
  3. Astronauts WAKATA Koichi


Dr. Eng.
Senior Advisor and Astronaut, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency



WAKATA Koichi Today

Currently serving on an ISS Expedition as a crew member while continuing duties as a Senior Advisor.

Previous Missions

Social Media

JAXA Digital Archives


Dr. WAKATA Koichi was born in 1963 in Saitama. In 1996, he flew as the first Japanese Space Shuttle Mission Specialist on STS-72. In 2000, he flew on STS-92, and became the first Japanese astronaut to participate in the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS). In 2009, he was the first Japanese astronaut to complete a long-term stay on the ISS as a crew member of ISS Expeditions 18, 19 and 20. From November 2013 to May 2014, he stayed on the ISS for 188 days as a crew member of Expeditions 38 and 39. On Expedition 39, he led the international crew as the first Japanese Commander of the ISS. Has been serving on an ISS Expedition as a crew member since October, 2022.


Born in Saitama, Japan.


Received Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering in 1987, M.S. in Applied Mechanics in 1989, and Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering in 2004, all from Kyushu University.


Joined Japan Airlines and served as an aircraft structural engineer at the Narita Maintenance Center as well as in the Systems Engineering Office.

April, 1992

Selected as an astronaut candidate by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA, currently Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) in preparation for assembly and operation of Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station (ISS). In August, commenced training in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s 14th astronaut class.

August, 1993

Qualified as a Mission Specialist for Space Shuttle missions.
Technical assignments at the NASA Astronaut Office to date include Space Shuttle flight software verification, development of Space Shuttle payloads, robotics development and operational support, development and operational support for Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), development of Kibo, development of the on-orbit inspection systems of the Thermal Protection System as part of the Space Shuttle's return to flight activities, ISS operations support, development of ISS visiting vehicles, Capcom, and development of ISS Payloads.

January, 1996

Became the first Japanese Mission Specialist on STS-72.
Performed robotics operations for the retrieval of Japan’s Space Flyer Unit satellite (launched in March 1995 on H-II rocket), the deployment and retrieval of the NASA OAST Flyer satellite, and to support EVAs.

August, 1997

Supported NASDA as Assistant Payload Operations Director for the Manipulator Flight Demonstration, a robotic arm experiment for Kibo, during the STS-85 mission.

March, 1999

Operated the robotics system on NASDA's Engineering Test Satellite VII (KIKU-7) in tele-operation robotics experiments.

October, 2000

Became the first Japanese astronaut to work on the ISS assembly on STS-92, responsible for the robotics operations to install the Z-1 Truss and Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 to the ISS, as well as supporting the spacewalks.

December, 2000

Qualified as a NASA instructor astronaut for robotics.
Also qualified as an instructor astronaut for EVAs in July 2008, and for CapCom in August 2015.

July, 2006

Served as Commander of the 10th NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission, an undersea expedition at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius habitat.

December, 2006

Completed flight engineer training for the Russian Soyuz TMA spacecraft.

March, 2009

Served as a Mission Specialist on STS-119, installing the S6 Truss on the ISS and operating ISS robotics to support EVAs.

March-July, 2009

Flew as the first Japanese resident ISS crew member and served as a Flight Engineer and the JAXA Science Officer on the crews of Expeditions 18, 19 and 20, as well as a Mission Specialist on STS-119 and STS-127 (2J/A). Duties during the four-and-half month flight included the installation of the S6 Truss, the final assembly of Kibo, a variety of experiment operation in science, engineering, art, and education, as well as ISS systems operations and maintenance. Also operated all of the current human space robotics systems - Canadarm on the Shuttle, Canadarm2, Dextre, and Kibo's robotic arm on the ISS.
Became the first Japanese astronaut to fly aboard a Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft in orbit.

March, 2010-February, 2011

Became the first Japanese person to serve as the Chief of the Space Station Operations Branch of NASA's Astronaut Office.

April, 2010-July 2012

Served as the Chief of the JAXA Astronaut Group.

November, 2013-May, 2014

Spent 188 days in space as a crew member aboard ISS Expeditions 38 and 39. After serving as a flight engineer aboard Soyuz TMA-11M and Expedition 38, served as the first Japanese Commander of the ISS for Expedition 39. Holds the record for the most time spent in space by a Japanese person with a total of 347 days, eight hours and 33 minutes spanning four space flights, as of May, 2014.

January-September, 2015

Supported the rendezvous, capture, and release operations of the “KOUNOTORI5 (HTV5)” spacecraft as the lead CapCom at Mission Control in Houston.

April, 2016-March, 2018

Became the world’s first astronaut to become an ISS Program Manager with appointment as the JAXA ISS Program Manager. Served concurrently as the head of the JEM Mission Operations and Integration Center and as an astronaut.

April, 2018-March, 2020

Served as Vice President of JAXA (in charge of the Human Space Technology Directorate, the Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center, and JAXA Space Exploration Center (JSEC)) as well as an astronaut.

April, 2020

Assigned as JAXA Senior Advisor and Astronaut.

November, 2020

Assigned to an ISS Expedition scheduled in 2022.

October, 2022

He has been serving on an ISS Expedition as a crew member since October, 2022.

Unless specified otherwise, rights to all images belong to ©JAXA