An unmanned Japanese cargo spaceship arrived at the international space station (ISS) Jan. 27, successfully delivering tons of provisions for the station and its crewmembers.
ISS crewmembers used the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to grasp the supply-laden H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV) and berth it to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module. Successful capture of the HTV was recorded at 6:41 a.m. EST; by 9:51 a.m. the HTV had been attached to ISS and secured with 16 bolts.
The 10-meter-long cargo tug, christened Kounotori 2 — “White Stork” in Japanese — is the second HTV spacecraft built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
It launched to the ISS from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center Jan. 22, riding into orbit atop an expendable H-2B rocket. The robot cargo craft was packed with several tons of supplies for the orbiting laboratory, including fresh food, water and science experiments.
Some of the cargo from the HTV-2 will be unloaded inside the station, while other larger pieces of spare hardware will be temporarily stowed on the lab’s exterior. A pallet full of spare parts will be extracted from a slot in Kounotori’s midsection and attached to an experiment platform outside the station’s Japanese Kibo module, NASA officials said.
The cargo vessel likely will remain attached to the station for about 40 days. During that time, it will be filled with trash and detached at the end of March to burn up as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. Japan’s first Kounotori cargo ship flew to the space station in September 2009.