A robotic Japanese cargo vessel decided on Wednesday (7 November) from the International Space Station for a weekend of forgetfulness to pack up a successful resupply mission.
The astronauts at the station released the HTV-7 supply vessel from the station using a robotic arm at. 11:51 AM EST (1651 GMT), as both spacecraft sailed 254 miles across the North Pacific. The Japanese Space Research Agency (JAXA) launched the cargo ship to the station at the end of September to deliver more than 5 tonnes (4.5 tonnes) of fresh food, science equipment and other goods.
"The Expedition 57 crew would like to thank the entire JAXA program and engineer for the flawless design and implementation of the HTV-7 Resupply Mission", Alexander Gerst, Station Manager, from the European Space Agency Radioed Mission Control after successful undocking. The cargo ship, he added, is an important part of a real international effort to support the world's only outpost in space. Gerst used the robot to release HTV-7 with the support of NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor. [Japan’s Huge HTV Space Truck Explained (Infographic)]
JAXA's HTV cargo ship (H-2 transfer vehicle card) is a single spacecraft designed to extract masses of supply to the space station and then departs and deliberately burns up in the atmosphere of the Earth at the end of the mission. The spacecraft, also known as Kounotori (Japanese for "white stork"), is part of a fleet of robotic carriers from Japan, Russia, Europe and the United States that have held the station stored with deliveries in the past 18 years.
The HTV-7 delivered some critical accessories to the International Space Station, including six new batteries for the groundbreaking lab's solar power grid. It also carries two small cube sets for a space lift test (used October 6th) and a small re-entry capsule that in Japan's first attempt to return experiments to the ground. If everything goes well, the capsule will be distributed shortly before the HTV-7 falls back to Earth across the South Pacific on Saturday (November 10), NASA officials said.
Known as the HTV Small Return Capsule, the conformed vehicle is 2.7 meters wide (0.8 meters), 2.1 feet long (0.6 meters) and weighs 397 pounds (180 kilograms).
"The return capsule will be ejected from a gap after the deorbit burns," NASA officials said in a statement. "The experimental capsule will perform a parachute-assisted splashdown off Japan's coast, where a JAXA ship will stand up for its recovery."
NASA officials said the capsule carries results from protein crystal growth experiments.
Made the desired team behind the luck of re-entry caps in his upcoming technical test. He and his expedition were 57 crews who packed the capsule with their experimental load and attached it to the HTV-7 slot.
"We congratulate all participating engineers on the successful construction and assembly of the small return capsule, and we wish our very best for the upcoming, most interesting phase of the return capsule mission: reintegration and descent."