Press Briefing at NASDAi (2003.7.7)
Astronaut Noguchi, back in Japan after a year and a half stay in Houston, held a press conference on July 7, 2003, at NASDA (National Space Development Agency of Japan; now the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)) in Tokyo to report on the training status after the Columbia accident.
Astronaut Noguchi delivered his opening remarks saying, "It has been 5 months since the Columbia disaster. Although we have not fully recovered from the tragic Columbia accident, we have been doing our best and devoting ourselves to the return to flight missions. The STS-114 will be the first return to flight mission. We are anticipating the final report by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) to be issued later this month. We will be developing a "roadmap" based on the results of the report, and deciding schedules for specific training and the launch."
Astronaut Noguchi then reported the current activities by showing two videos.
Noguchi: I observed the acceptance of the Pressurized Module of the Japanese Experimental Module "Kibo" which arrived in the U.S. on May 30. I was overwhelmed to see it finally ready for launch, especially since I was involved with its assembly in Nagoya.
Noguchi: During the month of June, I received operation training for the robotic arm at NASA's Johnson Space Center as a part of my mission specialist training. We used Virtual Reality (VR) for training. It does not look exactly the same as the latest computer games, but the distance perspective is very precise. It enables us to have highly accurate training in moving ourselves from one point to another using the handrails on the ISS.
Following these reports, astronaut Noguchi answered questions from the press. Here are some of his answers.
Noguchi: Regarding whether I have fear of flying the first return-to-flight vehicle, I'm sure that the measures to prevent accidents have become far more robust since the Columbia loss, and that the vehicle has become increasingly safer. We will not board the shuttle until after safety is asured.
"The task of the STS-114 mission will be decided after the final CAIB report is released, but I expect that the major task will remain the same. I predict that I will be the primary EVA crew member as scheduled. There is no crew change among the four of us; however the ISS crew that we are going to fly with will be determined after the final CAIB report. Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko, the two astronauts who had previously planned to fly with us, have already been launched and started their ISS stay."
"Now I'd like to report on the activities to which we have been committed since the Columbia accident. Immediately after the accident, we placed priority on the support for the bereaved families as part of astronaut office activities. In April, we participated in the debris recovery activity to determine the cause of the accident. When I found a piece of debris, I was too emotionally stressed to say anything, but I had a sense of responsibility that we must overcome the grief and do everything we can to resume shuttle flights. Fortunately, I was assigned as a crew member for the next flight, and have decided to commit myself to the return-to-flight activities."
"I gave much thought about telling my family about being assigned as the a member of the return to flight crew, and I explained how much the space shuttle has been improved. I reminded them how human space flight would enable us to open doors for the future of all children."
Astronaut Noguchi concluded as follows:
"I'm greatly honored to participate in an international project with a peaceful objective such as the ISS. The achievements of the ISS will reach not only to countries committed to the project but also to the whole world. As a Japanese, I'm proud to be involved in this project reaching beyond national borders. I will do my best as an astronaut, to accomplish the goal of this mission."