Photos: Japan's Robotic Space Cargo Ship Fleet

Releasing Japanese Cargo Ship Kounotori2

NASA

The Canadarm2 robotic arm attached to the International Space Station prepares to release the Japanese cargo ship Kounotori2 ("White Crane") on March 28, 2011. It fell into the Earth's atmosphere, and burned up. The ISS's robot, Dextre, is visible at upper right.

Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV2) Falls Back to Earth

NASA

The unpiloted Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV2), filled with trash and unneeded items departs from the International Space Station, March 28, 2011.

Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) Nears the ISS

NASA

Backdropped by a scattering of clouds over part of Earth, the unpiloted Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) approaches the International Space Station, Sep. 17, 2009.

H-II B Rocket Third Unit

JAXA

The H-II B rocket third unit core body will be part of the rocket that launches Japan's Kounotori3 ATV to the International Space Station. Scheduled launch date is July 21, 2012.

Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) Closeup at ISS

NASA

NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk and European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne, all Expedition 20 flight engineers, used the International Space Station's robotic arm to grab the cargo craft and attach it to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node. The attachment was completed on Sept. 17, 2009.

H-II B Rocket Third Unit

JAXA

The H-II B rocket third unit core body will be part of the rocket that launches Japan's Kounotori3 ATV to the International Space Station. Scheduled launch date is July 21, 2012.

Japan's HTV-1 Space Cargo Ship

NASA

Backdropped by Earth's horizon and the blackness of space, the first unpiloted Japanese H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV) approaches the International Space Station on Sept. 17, 2009.

Paper Origami Cranes in Kounotori2 Cargo Vehicle

NASA

In honor of those affected by the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake in Japan, paper cranes (origami craft) were placed in the Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-2). Photo taken March 27, 2011.

Bidding Farewell to Kounotori2

ESA/NASA

The three-astronaut crew of the International Space Station's Expedition 27 mission pack three origami cranes on the Japanese cargo ship Kounotori2 (HTV-2) before releasing the spacecraft on Monday, March 28, 2011 to end its mission by burning up in Earth's atmosphere.

Discovery Docked at Space Station with Japan's HTV-2

NASA TV

NASA's space shuttle Discovery is shown docked to the International Space Station shortly after arriving on Feb. 26, 2011. The gold spacecraft at the bottom of this view is Japan's HTV-2 spacecraft.

Japanese Kounotori2 HTV-2 Cargo Vehicle

NASA

The Japanese Kounotori 2 H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV-2) was attached to the International Space Station's Harmony module using the station's robotic arm.

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