Japanese supply ships head for the space station after delays


TOKYO – An unmanned Japanese space capsule is heading for the International Space Station full of goods, food, experiments and new batteries.

The vessel was launched on Sunday at 2:52 from the Tanegashima space center in southern Japan. It will take 4 days and ½ to reach the space station.

The launch was delayed about two weeks due to bad weather and a mechanical problem.

The delay led NASA to postpone two spacewalks to install the six lithium-ion batteries until the arrival of the new crew members next month. They will replace the old nickel-hydrogen batteries for the station's electricity, allowing for an extension of its operations.

The supply vessel is a 9 meter long cylinder that will be recovered from the space station's robotic arm. It's called Kounotori, which means white stork.

The 5,500 kilograms (12,000 pounds) of cargo includes racks and equipment for experiments and an experimental re-entry capsule to try and demonstrate a new technology to bring samples from the space station.

Once downloaded, the refueling unit will be filled with rubbish and sent to the Earth. It will be destroyed when it returns to the atmosphere.

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