While everyone’s away doing some early Christmas shopping, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station are busy opening their early Christmas gifts, courtesy of Japan.
On Tuesday morning, Japan’s shuttle Kounotori docked with the International Space Station. The shuttle, which is also involved in a series of experiments, was filled with goodies for the crew and some much-needed supplies.
The shuttle, which will be used to clean the metal debris around our planet left behind by five decades of space exploration, carried almost five tons of food, fresh water, batteries and miscellaneous items. The ground control team which loaded the supply shuttle also left behind some Christmas presents for the ISS astronauts.
At the moment, there are six astronauts aboard the International Space Station out of which three Russians, two Americans, and one French. The Japanese crafted was moored in by French astronauts Thomas Pesquet, with the help of ISS’s robotic arm.
His performance in bringing the shuttle in was flawless according to NASA’s ground control team. The Japanese space module contained, among others, six brand new lithium-ion batteries which, according to the North American Space Agency, will replace the old nickel-hydrogen-based batteries.
The astronauts will use the new batteries for their spacewalks, which are scheduled to begin next month. Meanwhile, the ISS astronauts rejoice at the arrive of the supply shuttle for the first time after the Russian spacecraft incident.
As we’ve mentioned before, food and water weren’t the only stuff the scientist onboard the ISS received. The astronauts who toil day and night for humanity’s benefit also received cool Christmas gifts, compliment of the American, Russian, and Japanese governments.
After unloading the Japanese shuttle and, of course, opening their gifts, the ISS astronauts send back a radio message to Earth in order to thank ground control for the supplies and the gifts they’ve received.
The last time the crew had such a wonderful time was during this year’s Thanksgiving Day when Commander Shane Kimbrough and his American peer decided to share a late traditional meal with their colleagues from Russia and France.
After with the Russian supply shuttle destroyed and SpaceX grounded, the crew onboard the International Space Station will have to rely, for the time being, on the Japanese cargo ships to bring them the much-needed supplies.
Image source: Pixabay