Dr. Satoshi Furukawa, Mr. Akihiko Hoshide and Ms. Naoko Sumino were selected as astronaut candidates (ASCANs) of the International Space Station (ISS) in February 1999. They have been receiving basic training primarily in Tsukuba Space Center since April 1999.

ASCANs Furukawa and Hoshide finished all the scheduled subjects by December 2000 and the training course certificates were presented to them at the end of December. On January 24, 2001, a ceremony was held at NASDA headquarters to officially certify them as ISS astronauts.

At the press conference held after the ceremony, they gave their comments. Furukawa said, "I hope to become a unique astronaut with a background of medicine." Hoshide stated, "I hope to contribute to the ISS program by receiving further training courses from now on."

Furukawa and Hoshide are the first astronauts certified through the basic training conducted by Japan. Every country’s training organization participating in the ISS program is responsible for certifying ISS astronauts. NASDA’s ISS astronaut certification criteria are: (1) that an ASCAN must finish the basic training courses, (2) have technical knowledge about the ISS, space engineering and sciences, and (3) satisfy medical criteria. The two ASCANs went through the screening, and they were certified as ISS astronauts.

They will take part in the advanced training* scheduled to begin in April and will join activities regarding the development of Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” ASCAN Sumino has been participating in the training based on ISS assembly progress status, and is planning to complete all scheduled basic training in the summer of 2001.

Advanced training is a training following the completion of basic training. The aim of this training is for astronauts to gain deeper understanding of the ISS systems and operations. The training is conducted about a year, using the training facilities available in the ISS international partners.