Congrats Kounotori on successfully berthing at the International Space Station (ISS) early on Friday morning. It was launched on January 22,2011, from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (Jaxa) Tanegashima Space Centre.
According to Jaxa, with the successful berthing, Kounotori has successfully overcome the most critical point of the mission.
Jaxa president, Keiji Tachikawa, in a message said: ``We will do our utmost to successfully complete all the tasks of the mission, including cargo transfer, departure from ISS and re entry to the atmosphere.'' It will remain at the space station for several weeks before reentering the atmosphere and burning up in a southern part of the Pacific Ocean.
Kounotori, an unmanned spacecraft to ferry cargo to the space station, was initially captured by the station's robotic arm. Seven hours later it was berthed to the station. Cargo from the pressurised section of Kounotori will be first moved to the station followed by items in the unpressurised areas of the spacecraft.
Before Kounotori departs, unwanted items from the space station will be shifted to the spacecraft.
Yes, it promises to be a period of action at the ISS. A few hours before Kounotori berthed early on Friday morning, a Russian cargo spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonour cosmodrome towards the space station on Thursday. It carried 1918 pounds of propellants, 110 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water and 3080 pounds of spare parts and supplies.
That is not all. European Space Agency's automated transfer vehicle, Johannes Kepler, is now all set to be launched to the space station on February 15,2011. The spacecraft has gone through simulation tests at the ATV control centre in Toulouse, France. Right now it is a `go' for launch.
All these flights are taking place against the background of the phasing out of Nasa's space shuttle in June 2011. These new missions to the space station are moreover unmanned once again triggering a debate between the advantages and disadvantages between manned and unmanned flights.
Yes folks it is all action at the ISS.