Imagine doing a spacewalk. While that is enough of an achievement, how about doing another spacewalk more than 15 years later?
Well, that is precisely what JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi (Japan) did.
Soichi's recent spacewalk was carried out as part of ISS Expedition 64 on 5 March 2021. His previous spacewalk was 3 August 2005. That means there are 15 years and 214 days between the two spacewalks!
This makes him the Guinness World Records title holder for the longest time between spacewalks.
Soichi went on his first spacewalk during the STS-114 mission in 2005. STS-114 was the first "return to flight" mission since the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia around two years before the mission.
One of Soichi's tasks was to restart the construction of the International Space Station (ISS), and replace a device that controls the position of the ISS. When asked about the significance of spacewalking more than 15 years after his first, Soichi explained:
"Longest gap between Spacewalks means that he or she maintains the highest skills over long period, along with good health condition to be assigned as spacewalker." - Soichi Noguchi
Although he is now an experienced astronaut and a member of the Association of Space Explorers International Executive Committee, Soichi's fascination with space didn't begin from a young age.
That started to change, however, when he saw the first flight of the space shuttle. And when he read nonfiction about 12 astronauts sharing their outer space experience at his final year in high school, his heart was set.
After graduating with a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Tokyo, Soichi worked as an engineer developing supersonic transport engines.
In 1996, he was selected (from 572 entrants) for astronaut training; his first trip to space (as well as his first set of EVAs) around nine years later, in 2005.
Between the spacewalks in 2005 and 2021, Soichi took to space twice. First of which was a part of ISS's resident crew between 21 December 2009 and 1 June 2010.
The other flight was on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission, the first operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. This feat makes him one of only three people to have flown into space on three different spacecraft (the Space Shuttle, Soyuz, and Crew Dragon).
And on 7 March 2021, days after completing EVA, Soichi tweeted from space asking Guinness World Records whether his spacewalks could be certified as a record.
"When I hear from NASA that I will most likely set new world record, I wanted to check with @GWR because they are the most reliable source to verify every kinds of world record."
Dear Guinness World Records, would you certify my new world record: 'the longest interval between two consecutive spacewalks by the same person-15 years & 7 months''? @GWR@NASA_Astronauts@nasa@JAXA_en— NOGUCHI, Soichi 野口 聡一（のぐち そういち） (@Astro_Soichi) March 6, 2021
After a review, Guinness World Records confirmed Soichi's record and sent a digitized version of the official certificate to space!
"I feel very honored and humbled to beat the record set by legendary Russian cosmonaut, Sergei Krikalev. [The idea of receiving the certificate in space is] very cool and creative. I would like to thank Craig for coming up with such brilliant idea."
"It's always a thrill to speak with astronauts and I've had the pleasure of presenting certificates to a number of record-breakers over the years. But I've never had the chance to present to an astronaut currently working in orbit!" said Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief at Guinness World Records.
"With more than 400 km (250 miles) between us, you could call it the highest Guinness World Records certificate presentation ever!," he continued.
When asked for a bit of advice for those who want to achieve their big dreams, Soichi answered: "never let go of your dreams, aim high, and always stay positive!"