TSUKUBA — An unmanned cargo ship launched from Japan to deliver food and other supplies arrived at the International Space Station some 400 kilometers above Earth on Aug. 24. Onboard the ISS, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui used a robotic arm to dock the transporter.
The Kounotori 5 cargo transporter, which was developed in Japan, carried over 5 tons of supplies and experimental equipment. Two earlier cargo-replenishing missions by the United States and Russia had failed.
On the ground, fellow Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata supported the work from a U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration control room. Wakata communicated with Yui, making it the first docking operation carried out with the Japanese.
Yui told Wakata in Japanese that he felt “proud” of the Japanese team. “I’m a small wheel in space development, but I guess I was able to shine like a star of the first magnitude (by succeeding in the docking),” Yui said.
The flight of Kounotori, meaning “stork” in Japanese, was controlled by a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency team at the Tsukuba Space Center in Ibaraki Prefecture. Kounotori was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan.
The delivery included supplies to support research on mysterious “dark matter,” believed to pervade the universe, and equipment to raise mice at Kibo, Japan’s laboratory aboard the ISS, for research on diseases and aging.