March 5, 2009

Japanese Astronaut To Perform Suggested Tasks In Space

A Japanese astronaut plans to attempt a variety of unusual activities in space this month.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has chosen 16 activity challenges for Koichi Wakata to perform while inside the Japanese laboratory Kibo at the International Space Station (ISS).

The challenges were chosen from a list of 1,597 suggested activities from hundreds of people, including students and a 90-year-old man.

In one challenge, 45-year-old Wakata will be putting cartoon physics to the test when he tries to take a ride on a flying carpet in the lab.

"It is a fantasy on earth but can humans fly in space?" said JAXA.

He will also be attempting to perform other tasks that are routine on Earth, including folding clothes, doing push-ups and backflips, and arm-wrestling a fellow astronaut in space.

Footage of the events will be made available to Japanese state media, JAXA said.

Wakata already has the title of being the first to play the board game "Go" in space, when he and a fellow astronaut used a specially modified set.

What's more, AFP reported that JAXA is eyeing the possibility of allowing companies to rent an astronaut by the hour in the ISS lab to perform tasks ranging from advertisements or science experiments. An astronaut would cost 5.5 million yen ($55,000 dollars) per hour, with an additional fee for any required items at the rate of 3.3 million yen per kilogram ($1.5 million yen per pound).


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