ISS Crew Grapples Japan’s Kounotori Supply Capsule

The International Space Station crew successfully grappled Japan’s second unmanned H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-2) space freighter during rendezvous operations early Jan. 27, setting the stage for berthing activities using the orbiting science laboratory’s Canadian robot arm.

ISS robotic arm grapples Japan’s HTV 2 cargo capsule. NASA TV

NASA’s Catherine Coleman, the primary arm operator, and the European Space Agency’s Paulo Nespoli nabbed the spacecraft loaded with 5.3 tons of spare parts, food, research gear, water and other supplies at 6:41 a.m., EST, as the two spacecraft sailed 220 miles above the southern Indian Ocean. The two ships were separated by 33 feet.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) HTV-2, christened Kounotori, lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center on Jan. 22, the first in a parade of global supply missions that are previewing station supply operations in the post-space shuttle era.

Kounotor maneuvers within 44 feet of the ISS. NASA TV

Russia’s 41 Progress mission was scheduled to lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome late Jan. 27, setting up an automated rendezvous and docking with the station on Jan 29 at 9:39 p.m, EST. The European Space Agency’s second Automated Transfer Vehicle, Johannes Kepler, is nearing a Feb. 15 launching from Kourou, French Guiana, that will initiate an eight-day station transit.

Coleman and Nespoli, working on Jan. 27 from a computer control post in the station’s cupola, were to berth Kounotori to the Earth-facing port of the U.S. segment’s Harmony module, providing the station’s crew with internal access to supplies within the freighter’s pressurized logistics carrier early on Jan. 28.

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