Astronaut Chiaki Mukai


Dr. Chiaki Mukai was the first Japanese woman in space and the first Japanese citizen to have 2 spaceflights!

I attended the World Without Disease Pitch Contest in Tokyo and met with Astronaut Dr. Chiaki Mukai. Human space exploration has always fascinated me and I was so glad to have the opportunity to speak with her about her latest research and past experiences. 



Dr. Chiaki Mukai
Japanese physician and JAXA astronaut (1994/1998).Vice President, Tokyo University of Science, and Director of the Research Center for Space Colony.

向井 千秋 氏
東京理科大学特任副学長 兼 スペース・コロニー研究センター長

As a Japanese physician and JAXA astronaut, Dr. Chiaki Mukai was the first Japanese woman in space, and was the first Japanese citizen to have two spaceflights! Did you know that Dr. Mukai was working as a heart surgeon in Japan when the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) in 1985 chose her to join her first space mission?

It was inspiring to meet her and she is a great role model for independent women in Japan who aspire to pursue their dreams.

向井千秋博士は日本人医師およびJAXA宇宙飛行士として、選ばれた初めての日本人女性であり、宇宙飛行を2回行ったの最初の日本人でした! 1985年に国立宇宙開発庁(NASDA)が最初の宇宙ミッションに参加するために彼女を選んだとき、向井博士は心臓外科医として働いていたことをご存知でしたか?


As the Director of the Research Center for Space Colony at the Tokyo University of Science, Dr. Mukai shared her current research with a presentation on Space Activities for Global Health towards Sustainable Development.

向井氏が東京理科大学特任副学長 兼 スペース・コロニー研究センター長として、「Space Activities for Global Health towards Sustainable Development(持続可能な開発に向けた地球規模の健康のための宇宙活動)」について発表しました。

In summary, there are three main avenues for space activities to develop with impact for life on Earth:



Satellite Programs can provide protection against infectious diseases and air pollution through earth observation and 3D mapping



Research on medicine in space (such as on the International Space Station or human space exploration) can provide breakthroughs in preventive medicine and spin-off developments for sustainable life on Earth



Research into Technology for space habitation enables utilization of limited researches


Her presentation made me recall a lot from my experience at the 2018 Y-ISEF (International Space Exploration Forum) held in Tokyo.

向井氏のプレゼンテーションは、東京で開催された2018 Y-ISEF(国際宇宙探査フォーラム)への参加から多く学んだことを思い出させました。

International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF)

Day 1:
Day 2:
Meeting with Dr. Koichi Wakata

During my visit to JAXA for ISEF, I first met Dr. Koichi Wakata, veteran of four NASA Space Shuttle missions, a Russian Soyuz mission and a long-duration stay on the International Space Station. In total, he has spent around 11 months in space! He was also the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station.

ISEFでJAXAを訪れたとき、私は初めて有名な宇宙飛行士である若田 光一氏にお会いできなした~。

Since then, I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet him again at various occasions to learn more about his career as an astronaut and current work at JAXA. I now know that although it may seem pretty awesome to be in space, actual life on a space flight is not only very stressful as you have to be constantly prepared for any kind of unexpected emergency, it can also sometimes be quite lonely as communications with family back on Earth are few and far in between. I can only imagine the intense training they must go through to succeed in their work. However, being able to orbit the Earth more than 15 times a day on the International Space Station must have been quite the life changing experience! 


私は今、宇宙で暮らすのはかなり素晴らしいことのように思えるかもしれませんが、実際の宇宙飛行は、あらゆる種類の予期しない緊急事態に絶えず準備しなければならないため、非常にストレスが多いだけでなく、 地球にいる家族とはほとんど会えません。

宇宙飛行士の仕事を成功させるために彼らがしなければならない大変な訓練を私自身想像することができません。 ただし、国際宇宙ステーションで1日に15回以上地球を周回できることは、人生を大きく変える経験であったに違いないと思います! 

The rest of the World without Disease Pitch Contest was also a stimulating afternoon.

The winning team proposed developing “Moringa” supplements (biscuits) and a comprehensive partner distribution network to tackle child malnutrition.

The runner-up team had developed a wearable medical device and AIoT program monitoring brainwaves to support those suffering from depression.

Wishing the winning teams all the best of the next chapter of their journey!






Elegantly stimulating evening hosted by the Ambassador of Switzerland 🇨🇭to Japan 🇯🇵 for the book launch on “Space Debris…

Posted by Rachel Leng on Friday, November 27, 2020

About Rachel

Rachel Leng is COO and Co-Founder of SeiRogai, Inc., a Tokyo-based business consultancy & media production company. Previously, she was Leader of Business Development on the Investment Management team at a Japanese private equity fund, as well as Policy Analyst at a top think tank in Seoul, South Korea.

As an East Asia specialist and former Miss Singapore titleholder, Rachel is passionate about the potential of media to educate and raise awareness about history, culture, art, business, and societal issues to enhance mutual understanding.

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