Japanese Cargo Ship Leaves ISS, Prepares for Burnout

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A robotic Japanese cargo ship left the International Space on November 7 and is on its way to a fiery return.

The HTV-7 spacecraft left the space station after it was released with the help of a robotic arm. JAXA ( Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) launched the ship towards the end of September and the cargo ship delivered more than 5 tons of fresh food, equipment and other valuable supplies.

The mission was saluted by station commander Alexender Gerst.  He offered thanks on the behalf of the Expedition 57 crew, appreciating the effort of JAXA and the engineers that contributed to the successful supply mission.

The HTV cargo ships (Or H-2 Transfer Vehicles) were designed to carry a significant payload to the space station. After there is mission si completed, the ships return back to Earth and burns up in the atmosphere, in order to prevent unpredictable crashes.

Known as Kounotori (‘’white stork’’ in Japanese’’) the ships are part of an international robotic cargo fleet along with other ships from Russia, USA and Europe. They have been keeping the ISS supplied since it became operational more than 18 years ago.

The HTV-7 delivered valuable supplies, among which we can count six new batteries that are vital for the functioning of the solar power grid, two miniature satellites that will be deployed soon and a small re-entry capsule that will allow the ISS team to send some experiments back to Earth. The capsule will be launched before the ship reaches the South Pacific on November 10.

HTV-7 will carry the capsule until it starts to burn. At that moment, the capsule will be ejected and a guided parachute system will bring the capsule close to the coast of Japan, where a specialized ship will begin the recovery process.

According to NASA, the capsule was loaded with the results of a protein crystal growth experiment.  It is hoped that everything will work flawlessly.

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