NASA Television to air JAXA final approach of unpiloted transport to space station

NASA has announced it will air the final approach of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency´s (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transport Vehicle-6 (HTV-6) to the International Space Station Dec. 13, 2016, the agency said.

HTV-7 will arrive at the space station Friday, September 14. Live coverage of spacecraft rendezvous will begin at 6 a.m. Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA will operate the station´s Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the spacecraft as it approaches from below. Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-7 systems during its approach to the orbiting complex.

Named Kounotori, White Stork in Japanese, the unpiloted cargo spacecraft is loaded with six new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates to replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries that make up part of the station´s electrical power system. The batteries will be replaced through a series of robotic operations and two spacewalks planned for Sept. 20 and 26.

Also aboard HTV-7 is a small reentry capsule designed by JAXA that will be assembled by the station crew prior to HTV-7´s departure this fall. The cone-shaped capsule, measuring 2 feet high and 2.7 feet wide, is an experimental technology demonstration designed to test JAXA´s ability to return small Japanese science payloads from the station for expedited delivery to researchers. Following HTV-7´s departure from the station and several deorbit maneuvers, the capsule will be ejected from the spacecraft´s hatch for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Japan, where a JAXA ship will recover it.