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Wakata Writes E-Mail to Japanese People from Space

October 13, 2000

HOUSTON, Oct. 13 (Kyodo) — By: Keiji Urakami Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, aboard the space shuttle Discovery flying 400 kilometers above Earth, sent an e-mail to the Japanese people Friday, officials at Japan's National Space Development Agency (NASDA) said.

The 37-year-old mission specialist wrote the letter on the third day of the shuttle's 11-day flight in response to a variety of questions sent to him through the NASDA Internet Web site.

Asked about how space food tastes in outer space, Wakata said, ''On the second day of the mission, I ate Japanese rice, miso soup and shrimp cocktail, and drank green tea and grapefruit juice. They were all delicious.''

But he added, ''While I am eating food, I cannot feel the weight of my stomach in the absence of gravity. This makes it difficult for me to feel full.''

In the letter, which reached the Johnson Space Center's mission control center Friday afternoon and was handed to NASDA officials, Wakata also talked about the orange spacesuit he wore during Wednesday's liftoff.

The suit is designed to cope with all kinds of emergency situations during launch and reentry to Earth, such as loss of oxygen, decompression of air in the crew cabin, sudden reduction of temperatures and contamination of air, Wakata said.

The suit contains a parachute, an emergency oxygen supply bag, a life raft, beverages and survival kits, he said.

During his conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori from space Thursday, Wakata said information technology (IT) has played a key role in advancing operations of space shuttles and other spacecraft.

He said the advancement of IT has enabled astronauts to both send and receive e-mail while aboard a space shuttle.

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