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.

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