Life may offer an unexpected surprise after an epic letdown, but in the case of first-time space voyager Norishige Kanai, it was an out-of-this-world opportunity. As Japan's youngest astronaut, Kanai, 40, is set to undertake a long-duration mission to the International Space Station when he takes off aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft this fall, following his initial heartbreak and nine years of extensive training. Kanai, who was among the 963 applicants for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's astronaut recruitment campaign in 2009, had set aside his dream of traveling to space when he failed the selection test, held only every 10 years or so in Japan, and decided to move on with life. At the time in his seventh year as a Maritime Self-Defense Force doctor responsible for the health of deep-sea divers, Kanai was enjoying his daily lunch break jog at the on-base field when he received a call on his cellphone, which usually signals an emergency. But it was a JAXA officer calling to notify him that he had won a slot as the third and additional astronaut candidate.