Japan's Cargo Spacecraft Kounotori Docked with International Space Station December 14
Japan's No.6 space transfer vehicle Kounotori, launched off Tanegashima Space Center, Kagoshima, December 9, is now successfully docked with the International Space Station, 400 km high in space, past 03:00 December 14 morning.
The vehicle was navigated as close as 10 meters to the station past 19:00 hours December 13, and at 19:37 was caught with a robot arm manipulated by an American astronaut.
Kounotori was then slowly drawn to the station at 0:24 December 14 morning with electrical lines readily connected.
Kounotori is one of the world's four space cargo vehicles transporting foods, daily commodities, test equipment, etc. - capable of moving two to three times more than any of the remaining three, free of accidents. Kounotori has, in fact, flown six times so far since its first launch seven years ago with no accidents.
Kounotori transported this time Japan-made Lithium-ion battery for the main electric power source. The battery is to be installed next month by astronauts while in extravehicular activity.
The moment it completes its commodities-transporting mission next month through early February next year, the spacecraft engages in an ongoing project of removing space debris - a serious problem awaiting solution.
Talking about space debris and ways to remove them, I have a piece of info that might interest you. Reports have it that certain traditional fishing net manufacturing technology is drawing attention.
Nitto Seimo Co. of Fukuyama, Hiroshima, is working jointly with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) to develop such a metal rope to dispose of space debris. The researchers propose that the rope, as electrical current is run within, reacts with the earth's magnetic field to slow down the speed of space debris, with the result that space debris together with satellites would eventually be drawn by the earth's gravity into the atmosphere and burn out. (Nathan Shiga)