Japan's Kounotori Docked With Space Station
July 28, 2012

Japanese Cargo Craft Kounotori Docks With Space Station

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

After its quick journey through space, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday.

The spacecraft launched aboard an H-IIB launch vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on July 20.

On Friday, expedition 32 Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide used the station's Canadarm 2 robotic arm to install the vehicle to its Harmony node.

Before docking, NASA Flight Engineer Joe Acaba pulled in the 16.5-ton cargo ship closer to the orbiting laboratory with the station's Canadian Space Agency-provided robotic arm, snagging the spacecraft as it flew within about 40 feet of the lab.

The JAXA cargo vehicle is a 33-foot-long, 13-foot-diameter unmanned cargo transfer spacecraft capable of carrying both internal and external supplies and hardware to the station. Its service is similar to the one that SpaceX's Dragon capsule provides, which was the first commercialized spacecraft to ever dock with the International Space Station.

The crew is scheduled to open the hatches of HTV-3 on Saturday once the pressure between the cargo craft and the station have been equalized.

The ISS crew will begin removing about 7,000 pounds of supplies from inside the JAXA spacecraft's Pressurized Logistics Carrier. The supplies will include food, clothing, an aquatic habitat experiment, a remote-controlled Earth-observing camera, a catalytic reactor, and a Japanese cooling water recirculation pump.

HTV-3, or Kounotori 3, which means "white stork," has other cargo aboard it as well. Kounotori 3's Unpressurized Logistics Carrier is carrying over 1,000 pounds of cargo that will be attached to an experiment platform at the end of the Kibo module on August 6.

The JAXA vehicle will remain at the space station until September 6, when it will be detached from the Harmony node by Canadarm2 and sent back to Earth for re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.