Japan's HTV-3 berthed to ISS. Image Credit: NASA TV
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station berthed the third of Japan’s automated HTV re-supply craft on July 27, following a smooth track and capture operation with Canadarm2.
The 33 foot-long freighter will remain at the station through early September, when it will depart with trash for a destructive re-entry.
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, positioned in the station’s Cupola observation deck at the controls of the 58-foot-long robot arm, reached 40 feet to grapple the 16.5 ton capsule at 8:23 a.m., EDT.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide took the lead for the berthing operations, which were complete at 10:34 a.m., EDT, as the capsule was berthed to the U. S. segment Harmony module well ahead of schedule.
"Nice work today, all three of you," radioed NASA's Mission Control. "We could not have had a better day." NASA astronaut Sunita Williams assisted.
The freighter launched from southern Japan with 4.6 metric tons of internal and external supplies and research gear. The HTV prototype mission was carried out in 2009, and the first operational flight of the HTV was launched in 2011.