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’s cubesat sending Morse code to the stars

If you thought cloud writing was cool, then how about a message from space burnt into the night sky? A group of unassuming cubesats recently left the comfort of the ISS and joined Earths orbit — among them was FITSAT-1 aka Niwaka, a four-inch-cubed Japanese satellite covered in high-powered LEDs. Its mission is to broadcast the message “Hi this is Niwaka Japan” in Morse code, using bursts of intense light to draw dots and dashes across the heavens. FITSAT-1 was originally planned to appear only over Japan, but a flurry of interest means itll be touring the globe, starting next month. Itll also find time for its studies, beaming VGA images snapped with an onboard camera back to Earth, to test a high-speed data transmitter.

Read the rest of the story: Japans LED-stacked cubesat will burn Morse code into the heavens.

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 Spaceship Loaded With Garbage Burns Up in Earth’s Atmosphere

An unmanned Japanese space cargo ship met its fiery demise overnight when it intentionally re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere late Tuesday one day after its departure from the International Space Station.

The robotic spacecraft, an H-2 Transfer Vehicle called Kounotori 2 (which means "White Stork" 2), was destroyed to dispose of itself and its cargo of space station trash after a successful two-month mission to the orbiting laboratory.

Along with the station trash aboard Kounotori 2, a high-tech sensor onboard the cargo ship successfully monitored the hot and fiery details of the spacecraft’s plunge to destruction into the South Pacific Ocean. It related its data via satellite to researchers for later analysis. The spacecraft also carried three paper cranes folded by the space station’s three-person crew as a symbol of hope for the victims of the massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on March 11.

The sensor on Kounotori 2 – a small and autonomous device called the Re-entry Breakup Recorder, or REBR for short – recorded temperature, acceleration, rotational rate and other data during the spacecraft’s high dive into Earth’s atmosphere.

Read the rest of the story: Japanese Spaceship Loaded With Garbage Burns Up in Earth’s Atmosphere.

US astronauts to ‘bottle’ space for Japan

Two American astronauts began on Monday the first of two spacewalks to install a permanent spare closet on the orbiting International Space Station and also to bottle some outer space for Japan.

The unusual project is part of a team effort with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, to open up a metal cylinder that has been signed by other astronauts, and bring it back for public display.

The so-called "Message in a Bottle" experiment, in which they will "expose a metal canister to capture the vacuum of space," is planned for the end of the six-hour spacewalk, NASA said.

In the meantime, astronauts Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew set about taking care of some more technical matters, by attaching a new extension power cable for backup purposes between the Unity node and the Tranquility module.

Read the rest of the story: US astronauts to ‘bottle’ space for Japan.

Astronaut Wakata to be 1st Japanese Captain of ISS

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata will stay at the International Space Station for six months starting at the end of 2013 and will serve as the first Japanese captain of the ISS in the last two months of the mission, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Wednesday. It will be the fourth space mission for Wakata, 47, and also be his second long-term assignment, the organization known as JAXA said. Wakata will be shuttled to the ISS aboard Russia’s Soyuz, it said.

"I am fully realizing the importance of the mission," Wakata said in a statement.

Read the rest of the story: Astronaut Wakata to serve as 1st Japanese captain of ISS.

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.