Japanese astronaut stays busy

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Chemist Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese citizen to fly aboard a space shuttle, is working so hard aboard the Endeavour he hardly has time to enjoy the view from 188 miles up.

'Dr. Mohri is doing just great. He is working himself from dawn to dusk up here,' commander Robert 'Hoot' Gibson told an interviewer Tuesday. 'When you look at the crew and you look at who'sdoing what and what activities they're involved in, Dr. Mohri is everywhere all the time.


'You very rarely see him even having any time at all to take a little break. I'm sure he is probably going to produce as much results and as much data all by himself as one and a half or two people have produced on other missions. He's really got his hands full on this flight.'

Co-pilot Curt Brown told CNN, 'We're just trying to keep him supplied with food and then trying to talk him into eating his food instead of working all the time and maybe take a break to look out the window.'

Mohri, born in Yoichi, Japan, was selected to represent his homeland on a shuttle mission chartered by Japan to study the effects of weightlessness on people, plants, animals and materials.


Married to the former Akiko Naka, Mohri has three children: Ken, 10; Taku, 9; and Yu, 7. He lists his hobbies as flying, snow skiing, tennis, baseball, ice skating, scuba diving and squash.

While Mohri carried chopsticks and Japanese food on board Endeavour, so far he's found forks and spoons easier to use in weightlessness.

'He has six or eight sets of chopsticks that he brought on board and he also has a selection of Japanese entrees, too, and he's been eating those but he hasn't been using his chopsticks. He's been using our standard old space forks and space spoons,' Gibson said.

'So we were giving him a little bit of a bad time, but I think he just doesn't have time to slow down and use the chopsticks.'

Said Brown: 'I think his comment actually was that his spoon was the most important space item to have.'

Mohri is not the first Japanese citizen to fly in space. That honor belongs to television journalist Toyohiro Akiyama, who flew aboard the Russian Mir space station in 1990 after his network paid a $10 million fee.

'I envied him because he went before me,' Mohri said in a pre- launch interview. 'But he flew as a journalist. I'm going as a scientist, I have been trained much more than him so I don't have any inferiority, jealousy on that.'


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