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. Japanese astronaut says Earth is 'beautiful'

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) June 8, 2008
Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, on his first mission in space, said Sunday he was in awe of the Earth as he spoke with his prime minister in Tokyo.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda joined a group of students who spoke through a video link with Hoshide, who is on the International Space Station (ISS) to help install Japan's first space laboratory, Kibo.

Hoshide, working 338 kilometres (210 miles) above the Earth, showed students the inside of the bus-size lab.

"Earth, as I see it from here, is very beautiful," he said, pointing to one of the round windows of the lab. "I think to myself it is so wonderful and fragile."

Fukuda, amazed at how sharp the image was, said: "I can see you very clearly."

"Maybe you can see my face getting dark, too," Hoshide replied, referring to his stubble.

Installing and outfitting the Kibo lab has been the central mission of the space shuttle Discovery team that arrived at the station on Monday with the 15-tonne facility.

Kibo -- which means "Hope" in Japanese -- represents Asia's first major contribution to the orbiting international station, which already has modules from the United States, Russia and the European Space Agency.

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EarthCARE Earthcare Satellite Contract Signed
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Jun 06, 2008
The European Space Agency and Astrium GmbH has signed a contract worth 263 million euros to provide the EarthCARE satellite, the sixth Earth Explorer mission of ESA's Living Planet Programme. As prime contractor, Astrium GmbH is responsible for the satellite's design, development and integration.

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