Thursday, January 27, 2011

Station crew captures Japan's "white stork"

International Space Station crew members this morning successfully grappled a Japanese cargo spacecraft at 6:41 a.m. EST today.

"Capture," radioed Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli as the station's 58-foot robotic arm hooked onto Japan's second H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV-2 as they flew 220 miles over the southeastern Indian Ocean. "And Houston, station, HTV capture is complete."

Nespoli helped grapple the spacecraft nicknamed Kuonotori, or "white stork," with Americans Cady Coleman and Scott Kelly. The spacecraft launched early Saturday from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

"Great job you guys, Paolo, Cady and Scott, on the morning's work," radioed a mission controler in Houston. "Congratulations to all of you and congratulations to the HTV flight control team. Great work today."

"We have Kuonotori in our grasp," replied Coleman. "It demonstrates what we can do when humans and robots work together. I look forward to bringing HTV-2/Kuonotori aboard the International Space Station."

"Good words, Cady."

After the successful grapple, the Expedition 26 crew members later this morning will berth HTV-2 to the station's Harmony mode. That operation is scheduled to start around 9:15 a.m.

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