NASA Television will cover the flight of a Japanese transport vehicle, loaded with supplies, to the International Space Station (ISS), from 7AM, 19 August.
The launch of the H-II Transport Vehicle (HTV)-5 was previously postponed by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), due to inclement weather.
JAXA named the unpiloted cargo craft Kounotori, Japanese for white stork, because: “A white stork carries an image of conveying an important thing (a baby, happiness, and other joyful things), therefore, it precisely expresses the HTV’s mission to transport essential materials to the ISS”.
The stork carries in its beak a bundle of some 4.5 tonnes, including water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the six-person mission crew.
The ISS is essentially a laboratory, one shooting around the earth 15.54 times a day, at an altitude of between 205 and 270mi, maintained by reboost manoeuvres of its Zvezda engines or visiting spacecraft.
It is the largest such artificial body and on a clear night may be seen from the surface with the naked eye.
The first component of the station was launched in 1998 and the first resident crew, Expedition 1, arrived in 2000 on Soyuz TM-31.
The station has been occupied ever since, surpassing the previous record of 9 years and 357 days held by the Soviet Mir, one of eight preceding inhabited stations.
Expedition 44 began June 11, 2015 and will end on September 11, 2015.
According to the mission summary: “Crew members will install equipment and conduct experiments that help researchers study microparticles for nanotechnology and nanoscience, observe potentially threatening microbes, examine liquid crystals in motion, and perform a one-year comparison of the effects of space travel on identical twins during Expedition 44. Investigations like these demonstrate how space station crews help advance NASA’s journey to Mars while making discoveries that can benefit all of humanity.”
The ISS is serviced and supplied by a variety of spacecraft, including Soyuz, built as part of the Soviet Manned Lunar Programme: Progress, an unmanned expendable cargo spacecraft derived from the Soyuz: The Automated Transfer Vehicle, another such craft, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA): Dragon, the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to be recovered successfully from orbit, built by SpaceX: the NASA-made Cygnus: and the H-II Transport Vehicle.
This is the fifth such Kounotori mission, since the flight of HTV-1 in 2009.
The crew of 44, comprises Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer’s Mikhail Kornienko and Oleg Kononenko, all of Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency). Fellow Flight Engineer’s Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
– Kelly and Kornienko will remain onboard until March 2016, providing information pertaining to future long duration missions into deep space. –
The final crew member is Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui of JAXA, who is continuing robotics training for the HTV-5 arrival, scheduled for 6.55AM, 24 August.
If all goes well, the Kounotori will be captured by Canadarm2 and berthed to the Harmony module.
NASA TV coverage will begin at 5:15 a.m. Installation coverage will now begin at 9:15 a.m. for installation at approximately 9:45 a.m.
For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
For more information about the ISS and its crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
By Harrison Drury