BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan), July 6. /TASS/. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi, who will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a new ISS expedition crew, will take with him a piece of paper with a wish, in accordance with the Tanabata festival tradition, the astronaut said on Wednesday at a pre-flight news conference.
Onishi said that Japan has a "very ancient and important festival of Tanabata." According to tradition, on this day the Japanese write their wishes on pieces of paper and hang them on bamboo tree branches, so that they come true.
"The date of our launch to the ISS - July 7, falls on the day of the Tanabata star festival. About 30 years ago I wrote my wish to become an astronaut. This dream has come true. And yesterday I made a wish to have a normal flight. Unfortunately, there are no bamboo trees at Baikonur, but a week ago, we were planting trees here according to tradition, and I put a piece of paper with a wish on a tree and will later take it with me," the Japanese astronaut said.
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos, and astronaut Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have been preparing for launch to the International Space Station. They are scheduled to lift off in a Soyuz spacecraft at 07:36 am Baikonur time, July 7. All three will spend approximately four months on the orbital complex, returning to Earth in October. The three will join Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams of NASA and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos. The Expedition 48 crew members will spend four months contributing to more than 250 experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.