Japan’s Kounotori 3 Berths With International Space Station
By Srinivas Laxman | Top News
July 30, 2012
Early on Saturday morning, JAXA’s unmanned cargo spacecraft, Kounotori 3, berthed at the International Space Station.
AsianScientist (Jul. 30, 2012) – Early on Saturday morning, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) unmanned cargo spacecraft, Kounotori 3, berthed at the International Space Station (ISS).
Kounotori 3 (or HTV-3), which means ‘white stork’ in Japanese, has a total cargo capacity of about 6,000 kg and is the second operational flight to the ISS.
The spacecraft was launched by JAXA’s H-11B rocket on July 21 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.
On Friday night, the spacecraft initiated its final approach towards the space station before being captured by the ISS’s robotic arm.
After being maneuvered by the arm, Kounotori 3 was successfully berthed to the ISS during the early hours of Saturday. The process of transferring cargo from Kounotori to the ISS then began.
Kounotori 3 is expected to remain berthed to the ISS for about a month. It is also equipped with a system which will allow it to gather environmental data during its re-entry to earth.
“This success marks a notable milestone in this mission. We will continue to strive to ensure the transfer of supplies, departure from the ISS and re-entry into the atmosphere as planned,” said JAXA president Keiji Tachikawa.
With the retirement of NASA’s space shuttles, the remaining options for sending supplies to the space station are the Russian Soyuz, the European Space Agency’s unmanned Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), and the Japanese HTVs (Kounotori).
The U.S. plans to engage private aerospace sector to operate to the space station, allowing NASA to focus on deep space exploration.
It may be recalled that on May 25 this year SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft successfully berthed at the space station. It was a historic event because it was the first time that a spacecraft belonging to a private company flew to the ISS.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: JAXA.
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