Friday, January 21, 2011

"White stork" ready for second cargo delivery to station

An unmanned Japanese cargo freighter nicknamed the "white stork" is set to launch tonight to the International Space Station on its second flight.

Blastoff of a two-stage H-IIB rocket carrying the second H-IIB Transfer Vehicle, or HTV-2, is planned for 12:37 a.m. EST Saturday (2:37 p.m. local time) from the Tanegashima Space Center. Click on the NASA TV box at right to launch live coverage starting at midnight.

The spacecraft is carrying 5.3 tons of supplies and equipment, including about four tons of pressurized cargo and the station's first large external spare parts launched on a vehicle other than the shuttle.

Click here for a story on Kennedy Space Center's role preparing two large spare parts for launch from Japan.

The HTV-2 leads off a month of busy traffic to the space station by international partner vehicles.

A Russian Progress cargo vehicle is targeted to launch Jan. 28, followed by Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle Feb. 15 and shuttle Discovery on Feb. 24.

Following a successful launch, the HTV is expected to arrive at the station early Jan. 27. Cady Coleman, Scott Kelly and Paolo Nespoli will grapple the spacecraft with the station's robotic arm and berth it to the Harmony node's Earth-facing port.

The spacecraft later will be temporarily moved to a space-facing port to make way for Discovery's visit.

Image credit: JAXA

No comments: