Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi said Wednesday he is determined to "hang in there," talking with humor and spirit about his age in an online conversation with the country's science and technology minister, as he readies for a mission to the International Space Station.
"My physical and cognitive abilities will be challenged but I want to compete with the younger generation by duping them with my experience," joked the 55-year-old from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency about his upcoming ISS mission on the Crew Dragon spacecraft developed by U.S. aerospace manufacturer SpaceX.
"I want to hang in there to keep up with the younger generation," he told minister Koichi Hagiuda from his home in Houston, Texas.
"Let's show how determined middle-aged people are," responded Hagiuda, 57, laughing.
The launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which will carry Noguchi and three American astronauts to the ISS for a six-month stay, has been postponed from Oct. 31 to "no sooner than early-to-mid November" due to additional checkups on the rocket, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Noguchi previously got aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2005 and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for a 161-day stay on the ISS between 2009 and 2010.
Hagiuda said Noguchi's boarding of the commercial spacecraft is "evidence of Japanese astronauts' active participation and achievements to this day."
Noguchi will become the first non-American to fly on a mission launched by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., founded by Tesla Inc. billionaire co-founder Elon Musk and the first private company to successfully launch humans into orbit.
The flight of the Crew Dragon will be the first in a series of regular, rotational flights to the ISS by SpaceX's new crew transportation system following its certification by NASA -- a successor to the Space Shuttle transportation system that was in service for 30 years through 2011.