Running a day late after aborting a rendezvous to resolve a navigation glitch, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft made a smooth final approach to the International Space Station on Thursday, floating in range of the research lab’s robot arm for capture to deliver 2.7 tons of supplies and research experiments.
Japan’s sixth HTV supply ship departed the International Space Station on Friday and headed for a destructive re-entry over the South Pacific with trash and disused batteries from the research lab, but engineers will first use the spacecraft for a pioneering experiment to investigate a new way to remove space junk from orbit.
Russian engineers will replace rocket engines on two Soyuz rockets assigned to send a batch of supplies and the next crew to the International Space Station after an investigation revealed foreign objects or a manufacturing defect led to the crash of a Progress cargo craft on launch in December, according to Russian media reports and a statement from the Russian space agency.
Two spacewalking astronauts working outside the International Space Station Friday completed work to replace aging batteries in one of the lab’s eight main solar power circuits. A second spacewalk next week, along with additional work with the station’s robot arm, will upgrade a second power channel.