Japan's space agency selects two astronauts from record 4,127 applications

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or, JAXA, has selected one man and one woman to be the agency's newest astronauts, after receiving a record 4,127 applications.

Suwa Makoto lives in the United States and works at the World Bank. At 46, he is the oldest person to be chosen as a JAXA astronaut. Twenty-eight-year-old Yoneda Ayu lives in Tokyo and is a surgeon at the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center. She will be JAXA's youngest astronaut.

Suwa graduated from the University of Tokyo and earned a doctorate at Princeton University. At the World Bank, he is involved in projects related to climate change and disaster prevention. It was the second time that he applied for the program.

Yoneda graduated from the University of Tokyo in 2019. She is the first woman chosen to be an astronaut in 24 years.

Suwa and Yoneda will leave their current jobs and join JAXA in April. They will undergo the necessary training at NASA and other facilities. The two are expected to be officially recognized as astronauts around March 2025.

They may participate in a global lunar exploration project and board a new space station that will orbit the moon. They may even step onto the moon.

Suwa and Yoneda spoke to reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday. Suwa said he was informed about his success 24 hours before the press conference. He said he was very surprised. He also said that he feels he is shouldering a great responsibility. Suwa said he was excited last night and couldn't sleep. He added that he intends to do a good job.

Yoneda said she was happy when she was notified, but surprised at the same time. She said she feels a strong sense of duty. She added that she is grateful to everyone who has supported her.