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This is the fifth installment of an article in which Chiaki Mukai, Japan's first female astronaut, discusses her life and achievements. She went into space in 1994 and 1998 with the U.S. space program.
The space shuttle Challenger accident in 1986 forced the suspension of the U.S. space shuttle program, including the so-called Space Lab J flight, in which Japanese astronauts were scheduled to take part.
Before the accident, I and the two others chosen to be the first Japanese astronauts had been energetically working at universities and research institutes. There was a vigor in our work, but after the accident, we lost hope, like fish on a chopping board. I …