TSUKUBA, IBARAKI PREF. – An unmanned cargo ship that blasted off aboard a rocket from Japan last week arrived at the International Space Station on Monday, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The Konotori 5 cargo transporter, developed in Japan, was carrying about 5.5 tons of supplies and experimental equipment. It was launched aboard an H-2B rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture on Wednesday after its liftoff was postponed twice due to bad weather.
Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, 45, who is aboard the ISS, used a robotic arm to capture the transporter as it docked with the ISS.
On the ground, 52-year-old astronaut Koichi Wakata communicated with Yui from a NASA control room, making it the first docking operation carried out under the collaboration of two Japanese.
Yui told Wakata that he felt “proud” of the Japanese team.
“I’m a small cog in space development, but I guess I was able to shine like a star of the first magnitude,” Yui said, looking relieved.
Wakata hailed the safe arrival of the Konotori to the ISS, which flies about 400 km above Earth, calling the mission “a great catch.”
The delivery included supplies for the investigation of mysterious “dark matter,” which is believed to pervasive in the universe, as well as equipment to raise mice at Kibo, Japan’s laboratory at the ISS, for research on diseases and aging.
The mission follows the recent failures to send U.S. Dragon and Russian Progress cargo spacecraft to the ISS.
The flight of Konotori, which means stork in Japanese, was controlled by a team at JAXA’s Tsukuba Space Center in Ibaraki Prefecture.