Japan Launches Much-Needed Supplies to Space Station

by Marcia Dunn

Associated Press

Saturday December 10, 2016

A Japanese capsule has been launched with much-needed supplies to the International Space Station.

Friday's successful launch from Japan comes a week after a Russian shipment was destroyed shortly after liftoff. The Russian rocket accident and the grounding of one of NASA's commercial suppliers make this delivery all the more urgent. The spacecraft should arrive at the station Tuesday.

The capsule - called Kounotori, or stork - contains nearly 5 tons of food, water and other supplies, including new lithium-ion batteries for the station's solar power system. Astronauts will conduct spacewalks next month to replace the old nickel-hydrogen batteries that store energy generated by the station's big solar panels.

SpaceX launches, meanwhile, have been on hold since a September rocket explosion on the pad in Florida.

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