Astronaut Hoshide to travel to space on Apr. 22

The US spacecraft, Crew Dragon, will be launched to the International Space Station on April 22 Japan time carrying Japanese astronaut Hoshide Akihiko.

Science and technology minister Hagiuda Koichi revealed the news to reporters on Tuesday.

The launch will be operated by SpaceX under contract with US space agency NASA.

Hoshide is scheduled to stay for a long term on the ISS, where he will become the second Japanese national to serve as commander.

Hagiuda said another Japanese astronaut, Noguchi Soichi, who is currently on the ISS, is scheduled to return to Earth on April 29.

If the Crew Dragon launches on schedule, two Japanese astronauts will be together on the ISS for the first time since 2010, when Noguchi and Yamazaki Naoko were there.

Hagiuda said the fact that two Japanese astronauts will stay at the ISS at the same time shows the country has established global trust and is demonstrating its presence. He added he hopes to see that preparations for the launch and return are made thoroughly and steadily.