March 20, 2008

Japanese Space Food a Hit in Orbit

HOUSTON - When visiting someone's house - even in space -
bring food. That was Japanese astronaut Takao Doi's motto and his country's
orbital eats are apparently a hit aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Doi, a veteran spaceflyer who is helping deliver the first segment
of Japan's massive Kibo laboratory to the ISS, packed three types of Japanese
, some salmon and steamed rice for his crewmates aboard the shuttle Endeavour
and space station.

"Actually, the Japanese food was great, especially after being
up here for five months," station commander Peggy Whitson told Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo
Fukuda late Wednesday. "Takao
was kind enough to bring us chopsticks to make it official."

The 10 astronauts aboard the station and shuttle sat down
together for a joint meal early Wednesday, where they sampled Doi's Japanese

"It was particularly good to have something different," said
Whitson, who is nearing the end of a six-month stint as the station's
Expedition 16 commander. "It was very tasty."

Doi launched toward the ISS with six NASA astronauts aboard
the shuttle Endeavour on March 11 to deliver the space station's Japanese
Logistics Pressurized module
, a storage compartment for the Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency's (JAXA) tour bus-sized Kibo laboratory. He is also testing new
Japanese space clothing
, underwear and a boomerang in orbit.

The astronauts also swapped out one member of the station's
crew and constructed a giant, Canadian-built maintenance
robot called Dextre
during three spacewalks. Doi gave Fukuda and viewers in
Japan a tour of the station's new Japanese room.

"Doi-san, thank you for your hard work," Fukuda told the
Japanese astronaut.

The storage module is the first of JAXA's three-segment Kibo
("Hope" in Japanese) lab, which is so massive it is being launched in pieces.
The lab's large, primary experiment module is set to launch in late May, with a
porch-like external platform to follow next year.

is a Japanese home in space and we hope to utilize this," Doi said of Kibo. "We
hope everybody will utilize this in the future."

NASA is broadcasting Endeavour's STS-123 mission live on NASA TV. Click here for's
shuttle mission coverage and NASA TV feed.