|I am JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
I believe that you are full of new hope and expectations for the New Year. I have been in steady preparation for my first space flight. I am going to participate in an assembly mission for the International Space Station (ISS) with the space shuttle STS-114. My main roles during the flight will be carrying out activities outside the craft (spacewalks), installing new parts on the ISS, and fixing and replacing broken parts. It has been about five years since the first ISS module was launched. Japan is an important participant in the ISS project, and I am sincerely happy and honored to be able to take part in this international enterprise, whose aim is peace.
|This is also the first space shuttle flight since the Columbia accident. For our flight, various safety checks have been performed, with a lot of cooperation from all the astronauts. I must admit that I feel some pressure as a member of the first crew to fly after the Columbia disaster, but my motivation and excitement to restart the construction of the ISS are beyond description.
Also, during the course of our busy training, we STS-114 crew have been visiting many space-shuttle-related facilities across the United States. Meeting with the technicians and staff working on the flight made me realize that this manned space flight is supported by many people, which confirms our determination to succeed in our mission.
Since the tragic crash of the Columbia, NASA has been making greater efforts to ensure safety, and to restart the shuttle program. In Japan, unfortunately, there has recently been some regrettable news in space development. As with America's shuttle program, there might be a long path ahead before we can start launching again. However, if we understand and learn from the causes of these disappointments, and put these lessons to use, there will be new opportunities. Then, I strongly believe that Japan's space program will play an important role in future technological and scientific progress.
Space development enriches our lives and opens the door to the future for our children. The ISS will bring great benefits not only to the participating countries, but to the rest of the world, as well. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to such a wonderful project as a Japanese. I have great faith in myself after training in the U.S. and Russia, and I will do my best as an astronaut in the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship.
Fly to our future of 'Kibo' (hope): This is our mission's motto. I will make continuous efforts for the future of space development. Thank you for your support.