Crew Preps for U.S. and Japanese Cargo Missions

The U.S. Cygnus cargo craft (left) from the United States departs the station on Monday. The H-II Transfer Vehicle (right) from Japan arrives at the station on April 25.
The U.S. Cygnus cargo craft (left) from the United States departs the station on Monday. The H-II Transfer Vehicle (right) from Japan arrives at the station on April 25.

The Expedition 63 crew will monitor the departure of an American resupply ship on Monday and welcome a Japanese cargo craft when it arrives two weeks later. Meanwhile, the three International Space Station residents are configuring the orbital lab for the spaceship activities and continuing microgravity science.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is nearing the end of its stay attached to the Unity module. Robotics controllers on the ground will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Cygnus from Unity then release the U.S. cargo craft on Monday noon EDT. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy will finalize the installation of the SlingShot small satellite deployer on Cygnus’ hatch on Sunday.

NASA TV will begin its live broadcast of Cygnus’ release and departure at 11:45 a.m. on Monday. Cygnus will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere over the south Pacific for a safe, but fiery destruction at the end of the month.

Japan is targeting May 20 for the launch of its ninth station cargo mission aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) resupply ship. The HTV-9 will launch from the Tanegashima Space Center and a take five-day trip to the orbital lab. It will be captured with the Canadarm2 and installed to the Harmony module for a two-month stay.

NASA Commander Chris Cassidy is setting up HTV-9 communications gear today inside the Kibo laboratory module from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). The Proximity Communication Systems (PROX) sends and receives spacecraft location and speed data during approach and rendezvous operations.

The two cosmonauts continued their set of maintenance and science duties today over in the station’s Russian segment. Anatoly Ivanishin picked up a camera for more photo inspections in the Pirs and Poisk modules. The veteran cosmonaut then serviced power tools and life support gear. Ivan Vagner started his day cleaning vents and filters. In the afternoon, Vagner photographed the effects of Earth catastrophes and studied ways to improve the identification and location while picturing targets on the ground.

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