JAXA


Why this Japanese space mission comes with a 2,296-foot whip

Christian Science Monitor

Japan's space program, JAXA, soars this weekend after its robotic cargo spacecraft began its four-day journey to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday. Onboard the spacecraft, called Kounotori (after the Japanese word for "white stork"), are more than four tons of cargo, including JAXA's massive debris clearing space whip and a new array of lithium ion batteries for the space station's solar arrays. Friday's cargo launch is particularly important after the failure of a Russian Progress cargo launch earlier this month. Several other cargo launches have met similar fates over the past two years. "Spaceflight's not an easy thing," said NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in an interview aboard the ISS.