Japanese cargo spacecraft reached International Space Station and it was perfectly grabbed by Canadarm2 robotic arm. Docking was conducted by specialists from ground control center – 4.5 t of supplies and hardware finally arrived !
Lasting for over three days space journey finished as it was planned. Japanese HTV-6 “Kounotori” was launched by JAXA on 9 December 2016 on atop of H-IIB rocket from Y-2 launch pad at Tanegashima Space Center. Spacecraft was packed with different cargo – from food and supplies for ISS crew members, through six lithium batteries for International Space Station power system, up to Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment – spectacular science device, which will be used to conduct experiment after releasing Kounotori.
Today at around 09:45 HTV reached final hold point placed 30 m from International Space Station. Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) were already at Cupola module, ready to assist HTV during next approach to 10 m hold point. At 09:59, after green light given by NASA mission control in Houston, UTC HTV started to move to 10 m point. Slowly, using its laser guidance system, HTV reached correct distance from ISS at 10:18 UTC and took position below Kibo module. Four minutes later, after final “go” from Houston, Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet started to move Canadarm2 towards Kounotori. Just as it was ordered by mission control, Kimbrough and Pesquet wait for orbital sunrise to avoid performing capture in low light conditions. At 10:31 UTC Canadarm2 started to move again and at 10:37 HTV-6 was captured when ISS passed over Chile on altitude of 402 km.
Next phase of the docking procedure covered moving HTV with Canadarm2 to Harmony nadir berthing port. It was done remotely by specialists from Houston mission control center and finished at 14:19 UTC, with closing all 16 bolts and securing connection with ISS. HTV-6 Kounotori will remain attached to ISS for 60 days.