Monday, December 12, 2016

Japanese cargo ship set to dock with the ISS at 4:30 AM ET

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The HTV-6 is packing 4.5 tons of supplies, and though the ISS still has plenty of food on board, the delivery will bring some welcome holiday cheer. It’s also packing six new lithium-ion batteries and solar array adapter plates, which astronauts will install in a serious of spacewalks starting in January. The module will remain docked for about five weeks, during which it’ll be unloaded and reloaded with trash. It’ll then be sent towards Earth, where it’ll burn up in the atmosphere.

The Russian Progress ship was well on its way to the ISS when it blew up, apparently because of a problem with the third stage Soyuz motor. Another ISS resupply craft, the SpaceX Falcon 9, exploded on the launch pad recently prior to a satellite launch, due to issues with the carbon fiber helium tank. Another Falcon 9 craft, this one bound for the ISS, also failed on June 28th, 2015, and an Orbital ATK Anatares ISS rocket blew up just after launch on October 28th, 2014. So far, JAXA’s HTV is the only ISS resupply program with a spotless record after six launches.

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