HTV-3 Docked to the International Space Station

Capture
Japanese HTV-3 Kounitori ready for Capture at the ISS
Image Credit: NASA TV

The Kounitori-3 (HTV-3) was captured by the ISS robotic arm at 9:23 p.m. on July 27 (Japan Standard Time) and berthed at the ISS at 2:31 a.m. on July 28. The Kounitori-3 was launched by the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No.3 on 21 July. ISS astronauts will take cargo out from the Pressurized and Unpressurized Logistic Carriers into the ISS.

The cargo loaded aboard Kounitori-3 includes:

1.1 metric tons of unpressurized cargo for the Kibo Exposed Facility (EF)

  • Multi-mission Consolidated Equipment (MCE)
  • NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Testbed (SCAN Testbed)

3.5 metric tons of pressurized cargo

  • Aquatic Habitat (AQH)
  • JEM-Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) and five small satellites (CubeSats)
  • Re-entry Data Recorder (i-Ball), ReEntry Breakup Recorder (REBR)
  • Catalytic Reactor (ORU, a part of water processing system)
  • Kibo’s coolant water circulation pump
  • Food and other daily necessities for the ISS astronauts

Mating
Japanese HTV-3 Kounitori Prior to Mating with the Harmony Module
Image Credit: NASA TV

Hatch Open
Hatch Open to Kounitori. Ready for Cargo Transfer.
Image Credit: NASA TV

Additional images of the HTV-3 mission can be found here.

HTV-3 Launch by H-IIB

H-IIB
Japanese H-IIB Rocket on the Pad at Tanegashima Space Center at T-30 Minutes
Image Credit: JAXA TV

At 6:36 PM Phoenix time (0136 UTC 21 July), we are at T-30 minutes and counting. All systems are go. Weather is showing some lightening in the area but no concern at the moment.

Now T-60 seconds.

Launch. All systems are nominal.

The H-IIB launched into the low clouds.

At T+2:10 the boosters have separated.

Flight is smooth at 3 minutes into the flight. Fairing separation confirmed.

T+5 minutes.

16 minutes into the flight and Kounitori-3 is on her way to the International Space Station (ISS). Docking is expected to occur on 27 July with the Harmony Node.

HTV-3 Resupply Mission to International Space Station

HII-B
Japanese H-IIB Rocket on the Pad at Tanegashima Space Center
Image Credit: JAXA TV

At 8:00 AM Japan Standard Time (JST) (1700 UTC), the H-IIB launcher was quietly counting down toward liftoff, currently scheduled for 7:06 PM Phoenix time (0206 UTC 21 July, 11:06 AM JST).

You can find updates at the JAXA web site, or follow the launch live on NASA TV, beginning at 6:15 PM Phoenix time.

We are now at T-2 Hours until launch.

The cargo loaded aboard Kounitori-3 includes:

1.1 metric tons of unpressurized cargo for the Kibo Exposed Facility (EF)

  • Multi-mission Consolidated Equipment (MCE)
  • NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Testbed (SCAN Testbed)

3.5 metric tons of pressurized cargo

  • Aquatic Habitat (AQH)
  • JEM-Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) and five small satellites (CubeSats)
  • Re-entry Data Recorder (i-Ball), ReEntry Breakup Recorder (REBR)
  • Catalytic Reactor (ORU, a part of water processing system)
  • Kibo’s coolant water circulation pump
  • Food and other daily necessities for the ISS astronauts

Lyrid Meteor Shower in April

Lyrid
Sky Map Locating the Lyrid Meteor Shower
Image Credit: Starry Night Software

With the Moon out of sight, the early morning of 22 April, will provide good seeing for the Lyrid meteor shower. These meteors are the result of the dusty tail of Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1). Thatcher has an elliptical orbit, with a period of about 415 years. It will return in 2276. Space Weather has a good article about the Lyrids.

This year, the peak is expected on the evening of 21 April and the early morning of 22 April after midnight. The shower can last from 16 – 25 April. Typically, there are 10 to 20 meteors per hour. However, there is a large variation in the density of the shower. NASA has a long article (from the North American Meteor Network) concerning the shower and other events, and quotes an 1803 description from a newspaper in Richmond, Virginia on April 23rd, 1803:

Shooting stars. This electrical phenomenon was observed on Wednesday morning last at Richmond and its vicinity, in a manner that alarmed many, and astonished every person that beheld it. From one until three in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers as to resemble a shower of sky rockets…

For the techies on the audience, the radiant at maximum is at 271 degrees, i.e. RA 18h 04m, Dec +34, which is about halfway between theta and nu Hercules, and not actually in the constellation of Lyra at all.

School science experiments launched into space on Endeavour’s final flight

Veronica
Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto
Image Credit: Veronica Ann
Zabala-Aliberto ©2011

Science has been a part of the Space Shuttle Program from the very beginning. The Most recent mission, STS-134, was no exception. Endeavour, making its final flight, carried a pallet of micro gravity experiments created by students from around the United States.

Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto from Rancho Santa Fe Elementary in Litchfield, Arizona, spent more than a month at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida helping to set up and analyze the experiments. She was responsible for loading the experiments for the flight aboard Endeavour, and for retrieving the experiments once the space shuttle had landed.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program , which gives schoolchildren the ability to design real experiments that fly in low Earth orbit, was begun by National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in June of 2010. Children from around the country posed questions such as:

  • “Can honey be used as a preservative on long duration space flights?”
  • “How does exposure to microgravity affect the swimming patterns and development of zebra fish?”

Videos showing the lab work can be seen on ustream, and a description of the program is at STEMStream TV.

Student teams submitted 447 proposals, from which 16 were selected—one for each community. You can visit the SSEP Community Network Hubsite for the list of winning proposals. And a second Student Spaceflight Experiments Program opportunity was created when STS-135 Atlantis was added to the space shuttle flight manifest.

Veronica is the Arizona regional coordinator for the Planetary Society, at-large director for the National Space Society, president of the Arizona regional coordinator for the Planetary Society, at-large director for the National Space Society, president of the Phoenix chapter of the National Space Society, commander of the Family Living Analysis on Mars Expedition and co-founder of the non-profit organization, Astronauts4Hire.