Japanese cargo ship set to launch for space station on Friday

Washington, Dec 6 (IANS) The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch a cargo spacecraft “Kounotori” on Friday from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan, NASA said on Tuesday.

Loaded with more than 4.5 tonnes of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the six-person station crew, the unpiloted cargo spacecraft, named “Kounotori” — the Japanese word for white stork, will set off on a four-day flight to the station.

Also aboard the resupply vehicle — H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-6 (Kounotori-6) — are six new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates that will replace the nickel-hydrogen batteries currently used on the station to store electrical energy generated by the station’s solar arrays.

These will be installed during a series of spacewalks currently scheduled in January, NASA added.

The HTV-6 will approach the station from below on December 13, and slowly inch its way toward the complex.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to reach out and grapple the 12-tonne spacecraft and install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will spend more than five weeks, the US space agency said.

–IANS

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