Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) would like to announce that three JAXA astronauts were certified as Mission Specialists by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on February 10, 2006 (US Time).

Astronauts Satoshi Furukawa, Akihiko Hoshide and Naoko Yamazaki, were dispatched to NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in June 2004 to be certified as Mission Specialists (MS). The three went through training (basic training) to become a MS mainly at JSC for about a year and eight months, and were certified on Feb. 10 (US Time).

JAXA keeps the three astronauts stationed in Houston to help with the successful assembly and startup of the Japan Experiment Module (JEM) for the International Space Station (ISS), in addition to Astronauts Takao Doi, Koichi Wakata, and Soichi Noguchi, who have already engaged in such activities. Thus they can continue their MS training while JAXA sustains its efforts to maintain and reinforce our manned space program with astronauts who are eligible for Space Shuttle flights and long stays on the ISS.

Mission Specialist (MS): Astronauts who operate Space Shuttle systems and robotics arms as well as conduct Extra Vehicular Activities (EVA) and scientific experiments on board.