Today's arrival follows the failed docking attempt on Monday (July 23) of an unmanned Russian Progress spacecraft. The Progress 47 craft was testing a new rendezvous system, which apparently failed to work as planned. The vehicle, which had already been at the space station, had undocked in order to test the new system in a re-docking. Russia plans to try again on Sunday (July 29) to dock the Progress 47.
Kounotori launched atop a Japanese H-2B rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on July 20. It is the third such vehicle launched from Japan, following the flights of HTVs 1 and 2 in September 2009 and January 2011, respectively. [Photos: Japan Launches 3rd Robotic Supply Ship to Space Station]
The spaceship is loaded with 4 tons (3,600 kg) of cargo, including care packages with food, clothing and other items for the space station's crew. The vehicle, which is 33 feet (10 m) long and 13 feet (4 m) wide, is also carrying a camera called the ISERV (International Space Station SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System).
The camera is to be installed on the station, for use by ground-based scientists who can manipulate it via remote control. The system is intended for studies of natural disaster sites and environmental issues on Earth.