Akiyama Toy­ohiro

How to go from jour­nal­ist to Ja­pan’s first astro­naut

All About Space - - Heroes of Space -

This story has largely gone un­de­tected in terms of space mile­stones, but the jour­ney made by Akiyama Toy­ohiro that took him from be­hind a desk as a jour­nal­ist to a space sta­tion around 400 kilo­me­tres (250 miles) above the Earth makes for a great story.

Born on 22 July 1942 in Tokyo, Ja­pan, Toy­ohiro had no am­bi­tion to be an astro­naut. He was a jour­nal­ist, plain and sim­ple. In 1966 he joined the Tokyo Broad­cast­ing Sys­tem (TBS) as a re­porter, also do­ing some work for the Bri­tish Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion’s (BBC) World Ser­vice in Lon­don, Eng­land. From 1984 to 1988 he worked as TBS’s chief cor­re­spon­dent in Wash­ing­ton, United States, which kept him busy with the end of the Cold War draw­ing near.

As the 40th an­niver­sary of

TBS drew nearer plans were be­ing made re­gard­ing how to mark such a spe­cial oc­ca­sion and im­pres­sive mile­stone. This was when a deal was struck with the Soviet Union to use their space pro­gramme for com­mer­cial gain in send­ing a jour­nal­ist to space. Toy­ohiro was the suc­cess­ful can­di­date in this crazy ad­ven­ture, but first there was train­ing to be done. Be­fore he could take to the sky Toy­ohiro had to un­dergo numer­ous tests and train­ing ex­er­cises at the Yuri

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