Christmas Season Arrives At International Space Station: Japanese Kounotori 6 Succesfully Docks
Japan's Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle 6 successfully docked at the International Space Station's (ISS) robotic arm, Canadarm2. The unmanned cargo spaceship was loaded with food, water and daily necessities for astronauts aboard the ISS.
The spaceship docked at 5:37 a.m. EST on Dec. 13. A couple of hours later, the cargo ship was disembarked to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module. It blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture on Dec. 9.
"It has about four-and-a-half tons of supplies for us, which we're really excited about," Shane Kimbrough, Expedition 50 commander, said as reported by Space Flight Insider.
"We were talking last night and thought it was really cool how our cooperation, and the strength of our international cooperation, is so strong when you have a NASA astronaut and a European Space Agency astronaut using the Canadian robotic arm grabbing a Japanese vehicle and attaching it to the U.S. side of the space station," he added.
The cargo spaceship carried 5.9 tons such as 600 liters of drinking water, food, crew commodities and, since it the holiday season, Christmas gifts also arrived courtesy of Japan. There are six new lithium-ion batteries as well.
This delivery is very important for the astronauts since two weeks ago, a Russian supply ship was destroyed after its lift off and SpaceX, one of NASA's suppliers, is grounded, Japan Times reports.
In the unpressurized section are six new lithium-ion batteries, which will replace 12 nickel-hydrogen batteries. The astronauts need the new batteries for the scheduled spacewalks next month.
"Based on a lot of the equipment that's brought up, we're going to see a lot of robotic and spacewalk activity coming up in the new few weeks, and it's going to be really exciting," Kimbrough said.
Aside from delivering cargo and supplies to the ISS, the K6 will undock and deploy a 2,296-foot electrodynamic tether. It was designed to pull space junk toward Earth to be burned by the atmosphere.