Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Japanese Cargo Vessel Arrives at International Space Station

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's H-II Transfer Vehicle(HTV), or "Kounotori" has arrived at the International Space Station on its fifth mission to resupply the orbiting complex.

Carrying 5.5 tonnes of cargo for the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory, HTV-5 lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan under clear skies aboard a H-IIB rocket at 11:50 a.m. UTC on Wednesday, August 19 bound for a five day trip to the station.
HTV-5 was captured by Canadarm2 at 10:28 a.m. UTC
Credit: NASA

On Monday August 24 the HTV performed a rendezvous with the International Space Station before being grappled by the station's 57 foot long robotic arm, Canadarm2. Assisted by Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui was at the controls of Canadarm2 from the robotics workstation in the Cupola. He was given the "Go for grapple" command by fellow Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata who was serving as CAPCOM(The voice link between astronauts on the ISS and Mission Control on Earth) during the on-orbit operations in Mission Control in Houston.

Yui then handed over control of the robot arm to teams back on Earth who issued a series of commands to Canadarm2 to slowly berth HTV-5 to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony Module of the ISS.

Included in the launch manifest is a space radiation observatory to search for dark matter, which will be installed on the exposed facility of the Japanese Experiment Module, pumps and filters for the station's Water Recovery System as well as food, water and other crew commodities for the astronauts and cosmonauts serving as part of Expedition 44.

HTV-5 is expected to remain docked to the station until late September before being loaded up with trash and other unwanted items and detached- destined for a fiery demise by burning up in the Earth's atmosphere.

Meanwhile back on Earth in Baikonur, Kazakhstan the crew of the Soyuz TMA-18M are undergoing final preparations and tests before launching to the station on September 2. Soyuz commander Sergei Volkov, making his third flight to the station will be flanked by rookie astronauts Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov.

Volkov is scheduled to remain on board the station for the next several months as part of Expedition 45/46 while Mogensen and Aimbetov will be busy conducting scientific experiments during a short 10 day "Taxi mission" to the orbiting complex. This will allow crews to effectively swap out Soyuz vehicles, with Mogensen and Aimbetov returning to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-16M with veteran cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who will come home after spending 170 days living and working in space.

ISS One Year Crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko will return to Earth aboard the Soyuz TMA-18M with Volkov in March 2016.

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