Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Station crew prepares to grapple Japanese cargo ship

A Japanese cargo ship launched Saturday is closing in on the International Space Station, where the crew is standing by to grapple the free-floating spacecraft with a robotic arm early Thursday.

Operating a 58-foot robotic arm from within the station's windowed cupola, American Cady Coleman and Italian Paulo Nespoli plan to grab the second H-II Transfer Vehicle, nicknamed the "white stork," at 6:44 a.m. EST.

They'll slowly reel in the 32-foot-long, 14-foot-diameter ship for a berthing on the Harmony node's Earth-facing port. The berthing begins around 9:15 a.m. is expected to be completed by 11:15 a.m.

The spacecraft is carrying more than five tons of supplies and two critical spare parts that will be stored outside the station.

You can watch live coverage of the grapple and berthing here, starting at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. respectively, by clicking on the NASA TV box at right.

Hours later, at 8:31 p.m. EST, an unmanned Russian resupply ship is scheduled to launch from Kazakhstan. The Progress spacecraft is slated to make at automated docking at the station's Pirs docking compartment at 9:39 p.m. Saturday.

IMAGE: Backdropped by Earth's horizon and the blackness of space, the first unpiloted Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) approached the International Space Station on Sept. 17, 2009. Credit: NASA

1 comment:

Gaetano Marano said...
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