The robot Japanese cargo ship took off from the International Space Station on Wednesday (November 7th) for a weekend with a forgetting to end a successful resupply.
Astronauts at the station released the HTV-7 ship from a station using a robotic hand at 11:51 EST (1651 GMT), as both spacecraft sailed 254 kilometers above the Pacific North Pacific. The Japanese Aeronautical Research Agency (JAXA) launched a ship at the station at the end of September and delivered more than 5 tons of fresh food, scientific equipment and other supplies.
"The Expedition 57 crew team would like to thank the entire JAXA program and the engineering teams for the flawless design and implementation of the HTV-7 reconnaissance mission," Commander Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency sent Mission Control after a successful disconnection. The cargo ship, he added, is a vital part of a truly international effort to promote the world's only base in the universe. Gerst used a robotic arm to release HTV-7 with the support of NASA astronaut Serena Auñon. [Japan’s Huge HTV Space Truck Explained (Infographic)]
JAXA is HTV cargo ships (H-2 Transfer Vehicles abbreviated) are disposable spacecraft designed to transport tons of shipments to the space station, and then leave and deliberately burn in the Earth's atmosphere at the end of the mission. The spacecraft, also known as the Kounotori, is part of a fleet of robotic cargo ships from Japan, Russia, Europe and the United States that have been supplying the supply station for the last 18 years.
HTV-7 has added some critical supplies to the crew of the International Space Station, including six new solar cell batteries in the orbit of the laboratory. It also carried two small cubes for the Space Lift experiment (which were deployed on October 6) and a small return capsule, the first in Japan to try to return experiments on Earth. If everything goes well, the capsule will be deployed just before the HTV-7 returns to Earth across the southern Pacific on Saturday (November 10th), NASA officials said.
The HTV Small Return Capsule is a conical vehicle 2.7-foot (0.8 meters) wide, 2.1 feet (0.6 meters) high and weighs 180 kilograms.
"The recovered capsule will be thrown out of the hole after firing," NASA officials said in a statement. "The experimental capsule will perform a parachute assisted sinking off the coast of Japan, where the JAXA ship will stand for its recovery."
NASA officials said the capsule bears the results of the growth of protein crystals.
Gerst wished the team to be lucky to re-enter the capsules in the forthcoming technology test. It was he and his expedition that the 57 crews packed the capsule with experimental cargo and connected them to the HTV-7 hatch.
"We congratulate all involved engineers for the successful design and construction of small returnable capsules and we wish all the best for the upcoming and most exciting phase of the capsule return mission: return and descent."