Thursday, January 27, 2011

Busy station traffic continues after special delivery

Japan's "white stork" cargo spacecraft is securely attached to the International Space Station, where it arrived this morning after a five-day cruise.

Station crew members successfully grappled the free drifting ship, packed with more than five tons of supplies and spare parts, with the station's robotic arm at 6:41 a.m. EST.

The second H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV-2, was berthed to the Harmony node's Earth-facing port by 9:51 a.m. A naming contest dubbed the ship Kuonotori2, or white stork, to symbolize the delivery of something special or joyful.

Hatches will be opened later today and supplies will begin to be unpacked Friday. Two spare parts that were readied for launch by Kennedy Space Center teams will be removed from HTV-2's unpressurized cargo module on Feb. 1.

Up next: the launch at 8:31 p.m. EST tonight of a Russian Progress resupply ship from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, hauling another 2.5 tons of fuel, food and supplies. There's no NASA TV coverage of the launch, but you can watch the ship's automated docking, which is planned Saturday at 9:40 p.m. EST.

Up next month: planned visits by Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle and shuttle Discovery, which are targeted for launch Feb. 15 and Feb. 24, respectively.

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