Japanese astronaut Wakata releases micro-satellites from ISS

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata has released micro-satellites from the International Space Station.

Wakata used a robotic arm to release the 3 satellites into space at around 12:15 UTC on Tuesday.

The palm-sized devices were delivered to the station by Japan’s unmanned cargo carrier in August.

One of the 3 satellites was jointly developed by Japan and Vietnam. It will take photos of the Earth and will also be used for amateur radio experiments.

Astronauts touch down on Kazakhstan Steppe

Three astronauts touched down in the dark, chilly expanses of central Kazakhstan onboard a Soyuz capsule Monday after a 125-day stay at the International Space Station.

NASA’s Sunita Williams, Russian astronaut Yury Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide of Japan’s JAXA space agency landed at 07:56 a.m. local time (0156 GMT) northeast of the town of Arkalyk.

Eight helicopters rushed search-and-recovery crew to assist the crew, whose capsule did not parachute onto the exact planned touchdown site due to a minimal delay in procedures.

Williams, Malenchenko and Hoshide undocked from the space station Sunday at 1023 GMT to begin their return to earth.

Around 28 minutes before touchdown, the three modules of the Soyuz craft separated, leaving the 2.1-meter tall capsule to begin its entry into orbit.

A series of parachutes deployed to bring the capsule to gentle floating speed.

Winds pulled the descent module on its side in the snowy terrain, which is a common occurrence, but the crew was nonetheless swiftly hoisted out by the recovery crew and lifted onto reclining chairs and swaddled in blankets to shield them from the 12 Fahrenheit degree (-11 Celsius degree) temperature.


Japan Spacecraft Docks at International Space Station

The third in a series of robotic Japanese spaceships safely arrived at the International Space Station on Friday, bearing a delivery of food, equipment and student science experiments for the orbital outpost.

The unmanned, school bus-size H-2 Transfer Vehicle-3 (HTV-3), also called Kounotori 3 (“White Stork” in Japanese), flew to about 40 feet (12 meters) away from the ISS, where it was grabbed at 8:23 a.m. ET by the space station’s 58-foot long (18 m) robotic arm, which was controlled from inside by astronauts Joe Acaba of NASA and Aki Hoshide of JAXA (the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency).

Using the Canadarm2 robotic arm, Acaba and Hoshide maneuvered Kounotori 3 to the Earth-facing docking port on the space station’s Harmony node at 10:34 a.m. ET.

Read the rest of the story: Japan spacecraft docks at space station.


Japan Launching Robotic Cargo Ship to International Space Station

Japan is set to launch a new unmanned cargo spaceship to deliver goods to the International Space Station today July 20.

The robotic spacecraft, called H-2 Transfer Vehicle-3 HTV-3, is the third of its kind to travel to the orbiting laboratory, where six astronauts from three countries are currently living and working.

HTV-3 is due to lift off at 10:06 p.m. EDT 0206 GMT Saturday, or 11:06 a.m. Japan time Saturday from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The spacecraft will fly atop a Japanese H-2B rocket. It is the second launch toward the space station in a week. A Soyuz space capsule launched on late Saturday July 15 to ferry three members of the space stations crew to the orbiting lab.

Japan’s latest spaceship, nicknamed Kounotori 3 “White Stork 3” in Japanese, will take about a week to reach the 240 mile high 386 kilometers space station. It is scheduled to arrive on July 27, when astronauts inside the outpost will reach out and grab the Japanese vessel with the stations Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Launching Robotic Cargo Ship to Space Station Tonight.


ISS to get new crew – Russian, US, Japanese Astronauts Blasted-Off Today

A Soyuz spacecraft lifted off on Tuesday with a Russian, a US and a Japanese astronaut aboard headed for the International Space Station ISS.The spacecraft carrying American Mike Fossum, Russian Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan lifted off at about 2012 GMT from the launchpad at Baikonur, Kazakhstan."The flight is normal," the control centre told the international crew.The three will join Russians Alexander Samokutyaev and Andrey Borisenko and American Ronald Garan aboard the ISS where they will spend the next half year.

Read the rest of the story: Soyuz heads to ISS carrying Russian, US, Japanese astronauts.

Japanese vessel ready to meet International Space Station

Japan is poised to launch its second-ever unmanned cargo vessel to the International Space Station early Saturday morning (Jan. 22). The vessel, which was initially scheduled to launch Thursday (Jan 20), was delayed due to poor weather forecasts.

The spacecraft, called Kounotori 2 ("Kounotori" is Japanese for "white stork"), is slated to lift off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 12:37 a.m. EST (0537 GMT, or 2:37 p.m. local time in Japan).  The cargo ship will launch atop Japan’s H2B rocket, according to the Japanese space agency JAXA.

If everything goes according to plan, Kounotori 2 will arrive at the station on Jan. 27, delivering 5.3 tons of food, supplies and spare parts.

Helping fill the space shuttle’s shoes

The mission will be the second for JAXA’s unmanned space cargo ship program, which had a successful maiden run to the station with its Kounotori 1 vessel in September 2009.

The Kounotori craft are officially known as H-2 Transfer Vehicles (HTVs). The name Kounotori was given after the first HTV flight to signify the delivery of happiness, JAXA officials said. 

Read the rest of the story: FoxNews.com – Japanese Spacecraft to Blast Off to Space Station.

Yamazaki Performs cool “red bubble” experiment

Mystery: Why doesn’t colored bubblebath make colored soap bubbles in water?

Promising her seven-year-old daughter she would solve this puzzling mystery, astronaut Yamazaki mixed red tropical fruit juice with soap and blew shiny red bubbles in space to the delight of her daughter Yuki, who watched with the astronaut’s husband Taichi on a video phone, Jiji Press said.

The experiment worked because space’s zero-gravity environment allowed color pigments to spread evenly around a bubble, said Yamazaki’s husband.

The latest experiment follows a tradition of Japanese astronauts testing left-field ideas in space, ranging from trying out a flying carpet to applications of eye drops.

Read the rest of the story: Japan astronaut solves bubble puzzle

Koichi Wakata Does the Off-beat in Experiments in Space

koichi_wakataAstronaut Koichi Wakata, who has been aboard the International Space Station since mid-March, has carried out a series of offbeat space experiments proposed by the Japanese public.

The experiments, which the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has dubbed “Try Zero-G,” consist mainly of physical exercises and gymnastics (including calisthenics, push-ups, flips, twirls, cartwheels, overhead soccer kicks, and swimming). In addition, Wakata practices origami as he folds clothes, rides a “magic carpet,” squirts water from a syringe, puts eyedrops in his eye, and attempts to propel himself through the room by flapping a fan. He also enlists the help of a fellow astronaut for some arm wrestling, hand-shaking, slap sumo, and tug of war. And who says you can’t have fun while fly 17,500 miles an hour around a lump of rock?

For a list complete list of the stunts check out our previous article about Koichi Wakata.

Koichi Wakata

On March 18, astronaut Koichi Wakata arrived at the International Space Station to begin his three-month space sojourn — the longest ever for a Japanese spaceman. Although much of Wakata’s time in space will be devoted to official research and maintenance duties, he plans to set aside a little free time for 16 offbeat experiments proposed by the Japanese public.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) selected the extra experiments from nearly 1,600 proposals they received after asking the public what tests they would like to see performed in space. The 16 experiments are listed here as questions posed to Wakata.

1. Calisthenics: Is it possible to follow an audio-guided workout program in zero gravity?

2. Backflips: On Earth, backflips take a lot of practice and leg strength. How about in zero gravity?

3. Volleying (soccer): Crumple a piece of paper into a ball and try kicking it around. How does the ball behave in zero gravity? Can you volley it?

4. Push-ups: In space, can you do push-ups while facing the ceiling or walls?

5. Cartwheels: In zero gravity, can you rotate yourself continuously like a windmill?

6. Swimming: Try to swim through the air as if you were in water. Can you move forward by swimming? If not, why not?

7. Spin like an ice skater: On Earth, ice skaters can increase their rotation speed by pulling their arms closer in to the body while they spin. Does the same thing happen in zero gravity? If so, what is the reason?

8. Folding clothes: In space, can you fold clothes and put them away as you do on Earth? It seems that the shirt sleeves would be difficult to keep in place. What is the best way to fold clothes in space?

9. Magic carpet: Try to sit on a floating carpet. Magic carpets are a fantasy on Earth, but are they possible in space?

10. Water gun: On Earth, if you squeeze a drink bag, a single stream of liquid shoots out through the straw hole and falls to the ground. How does the liquid behave in zero gravity?

11. Eye drops: On Earth, you have to face upward to put eye drops into your eyes. Is there a better way to do this in zero gravity?

12. Propulsion through space: When floating in zero gravity, how much power do you need in order to propel yourself around? Can you move simply by blowing air from your mouth or by flapping a hand-fan?

The next four activities are to be performed by two people:

13. Arm wrestling
14. Shaking hands
15. Sumo
16. Tug-of-war

JAXA plans to release videos of Wakata’s experiments in July.

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Koichi Wakata’s Underpants

[Source: JAXA]