Japan, Born 1948
Mamotu Mohri was Japan’s first astronaut, conducting numerous scientific experiments on-board the NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour and reaching a wide audience from a televised “space classroom”.
As a teenager in 1961, Mamoru Mohri, inspired by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering voyage in space, dreamt of becoming an astronaut. The dream came true in 1985 when, at the age of 37, the eminent Japanese scientist was selected by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) as a Spacelab-J payload specialist for the US/Japanese programme and began training as an astronaut.
In 1992, he took his maiden voyage into space. Eight years later, he again flew on Endeavour, this time as a mission specialist mapping millions of kilometres of the Earth’s land surface. His extensive research and academic background equipped Mohri for the 459 hours he logged in space; he previously served as an associate professor at the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Hokkaido University and as adjunct professor of physics at the University of Alabama’s Center for Microgravity and Materials Research.
Mohri’s quest for science also includes the deep sea. In 2003, he conducted an experiment at 6,500m underwater in the Shinkai submersible. As part of NHK’s (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) solar eclipse project, he witnessed the first total eclipse seen in Antarctica.
His lifelong dedication to education is exemplified by his position as director of Japan’s Young Astronauts Club and, since 2000, as the first director of Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Widely honoured for his work and publications, Dr Mohri’s guiding principle is: “Reach for the stars!”