Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi will return to the International Space Station, this time transported by a spacecraft developed by U.S. aerospace manufacturer Space X, according to the Japanese government.

Noguchi, 54, will be manning Space Exploration Technologies Corp.'s first operational Crew Dragon spacecraft, science minister Koichi Hagiuda said at a recent press conference. He stopped short of saying when the spaceship will be launched.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, to which Noguchi belongs, previously said he is expected to stay at the ISS for around six months, and said last July he will start training for a mission aboard a new U.S. spaceship.

At the time, it was unclear whether he would be boarding a spacecraft developed by Space X or Boeing Co.

Noguchi, who previously resided on the ISS for 161 days from December 2009, will travel on the Crew Dragon with three other astronauts.

In March last year, the unmanned Dragon spacecraft of Space X made a successful round trip to the ISS, but a Crew Dragon exploded on the ground during an engine test the following month, triggering safety concerns.

Noguchi will board the Crew Dragon, which will lift off following the launch of a spacecraft carrying two astronauts from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration planned for mid-May.

The Crew Dragon was developed by Space X, founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, to transport astronauts to the ISS after NASA's Space Shuttle retired in 2011.

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