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Friday, 6th March 2009
In General Japan News,

Japanese astronaut to ride 'flying carpet' in space

A Japanese astronaut is attempting to undertake a series of bizarre tasks when he takes off into space later this month.

Members of the public submitted more than 1,500 suggestions for things Koichi Wakata could do while in space.

These were whittled down to 16 tasks, which will include using eyedrops in zero gravity and flying on a carpet, reports AFP.

Mr Wakata, a former engineer with Japan Airlines, will perform the activities when he reaches the Japanese laboratory at the International Space Station.

The Japanese space agency Jaxa has also invited businesses to rent an astronaut by the hour to perform tasks of their choosing, such as science experiments or advertising products.

It has emerged that Jaxa is also considering sending a robot to the moon by 2020 and an astronaut by 2030.

An official from the Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy under the Cabinet Office told Reuters: "Some experts are concerned that unless there is an independent program, then Japan may be left behind in terms of space development."

Written by Graham McPherson