Japanese astronaut Wakata sends well wishes to new astronauts

Japanese astronaut Wakata Koichi has sent his well wishes from the International Space Station to the country's two new astronauts.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or, JAXA, announced on Tuesday that Suwa Makoto and Yoneda Ayu would become its new astronauts.

Wakata, who also belongs to JAXA, on Thursday held a news conference from the International Space Station, where he has been staying since October 2022 on a roughly six-month space mission.

Commenting that "it's really exciting to hear the news," he said, "I really look forward to working with them." He described them as "very capable" and said they have a "very interesting background."

Wakata said that while he feels "very envious" of their opportunities, which could include exploration of the moon, he wants to support them in their training as well as in their space flight. He also said he has high hopes that the two will contribute to the exploration of the space frontier by working with colleagues from around the world.

Wakata looked back on his experiences and said he always thought that each of his trips to space would be his last, so he feels lucky to be able to fly a fifth time.

He said he has watched the evolution of the International Space Station from the assembling phase and noted that it is now capable of collecting a variety of data to explore the moon and Mars.