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141 Days in Space

Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui is returning to Earth after an eventful five-month mission. He had a range of responsibilities while onboard the International Space Station.

Perhaps the most memorable was managing to catch hold of an unmanned cargo craft in August.

Yui played a key role in helping Japan's cargo ship dock with the ISS. The HTV cargo vessel was loaded with food, equipment and other supplies for the astronauts.

Yui's skillful operation of the ISS's robotic arm ensured the delivery was a success.

Completing his task, he described the result in poetic terms:

"We've successfully captured the HTV. It looks very golden... like a treasure box," he said.

Assisting Yui from Mission Control in Houston, Texas was fellow Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

It was the first time that Japanese astronauts had worked together on Earth and in space to dock a spacecraft.

"He has a great sense of reading situations using skills acquired during his career as a test pilot for Japan's Air Self-Defense Force," said Wakata. "He also showed great ability in operating systems."

Another task Yui undertook with great relish was to become the first person ever to taste lettuce grown in space.

While in orbit, Yui used Twitter almost daily to share his experiences.

He also sent back some amazing photographs of Earth. They're inspiring children in Japan and around the world who hope to follow in his footsteps.

One child asked him a poignant question. "Do you think an ordinary girl, like me, can go to space someday?" she said.

"I am an ordinary man," replied Yui. "I have made it into space because I wanted to. I think the time will come for everybody who works hard."

Yui's 141 days onboard the ISS were successful on a number of levels.

Not only was his stay closely followed by millions of people on Earth, it also sparked the imaginations of children throughout Japan and allowed them to dream of doing the impossible.

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