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Kounotori2 Departs Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:19 am via: NASA
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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle, which arrived at the International Space Station on Jan. 27, departed the station Monday. Expedition 27 Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli and Cady Coleman used the station’s robot arm to grapple Kounotori2 and unberth it from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node. The cargo craft was released at 11:46 a.m. EDT.

Kounotori2 , which delivered more than four tons of supplies and equipment to the station, was carrying some 3,135 pounds (1,422 kilograms) of trash, foam packing material, food containers and other items as it departed. It will make a destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere Tuesday night.

Nespoli and Coleman closed the hatches to Kounotori2 Sunday and spent much of the rest of the day hooking up control panels for the Common Berthing Mechanism that connected the HTV to the station, disconnecting power cables and installing thermal blankets.

In honor of those affected by the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake in Japan, the Expedition 27 crew and flight controllers on the ground folded origami cranes. The cranes folded by the crew were placed aboard Kounotori2 before its departure.

Commander Dmitry Kondratyev worked with the Russian experiment IZGIB, a name which means “bend.” The experiment’s objective is to help update mathematical models of the station’s gravitation environment. He also performed routine maintenance on the environmental control and life support system in the Zvezda service module.

Coleman also participated in an experiment that tests whether drugs known as biophosphonates could serve as an additional countermeasure to fend off bone density loss in long-term space travelers.

NASA astronaut Ron Garan and cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev are on schedule to begin their journey to the orbital complex where they will join the Expedition 27 crew as flight engineers. Their Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, named for Yuri Gagarin, is scheduled for liftoff on April 4, just one week shy of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s historic journey into space from that same launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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