NASA ground controllers sent commands to the International Space Station on Thursday for release of a 2.9-ton cargo pallet loaded with old batteries, the most massive object ever jettisoned from the orbiting outpost. The garbage carrier is expected to remain in orbit for two-to-four years before re-entering the atmosphere.
Space station commander Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken plan to float outside Friday for the first of up to four spacewalks needed to complete the replacement of aging batteries in the lab’s solar power system. NASA managers hope to get the work done in time for Behnken and crewmate Douglas Hurley to return to Earth aboard their Crew Dragon capsule by around Aug. 2, officials said Wednesday.
The last of Japan’s current series of HTV cargo freighters arrived at the International Space Station Monday with a fresh set of lithium-ion batteries, ready for installation on the research lab’s solar power truss after the scheduled docking of a two-man crew on a SpaceX Dragon spaceship later this week.
Five days after launching from Japan, an HTV supply ship arrived Monday at the International Space Station. Capture of the HTV with the station’s robotic arm occurred at 8:13 a.m. EDT (1213 GMT). It’s the last cargo mission to the space station before the arrival of two NASA astronauts on the first crewed U.S. flight to the orbiting research facility since 2011.