Sunday Reading – Japan’s Forgotten First Astronaut

“Thus it was that a chain-smoking, over-the-hill salaryman came to carry the entirety of [Tokyo Broadcasting Systems’] multimillion dollar investment on his shoulders.” As you read this, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa has just begun his 5 month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS). While on board the station, the medical doctor will conduct a series of experiments, which includes growing cucumbers to see how the food plant does in zero-G. Officially, Furukawa is the third Japanese astronaut to make the journey into space and stay on the ISS. However, at the link you’ll be able to read the fascinating story of Akiyama Toyohiro, a middle-aged journalist and senior editor for the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), who hitched a ride into space with the Russians back in 1990 after TBS paid millions for him to be a “space tourist” on a Soyuz spacecraft. It isn’t exactly breaking news, but it is a fascinating and largely forgotten story about Japan’s relatively young history with extraterrestrial travel. (Neojaponisme – Japan’s First “Astronaut”)