This Is How Christmas Gifts Get to the International Space Station
Santa makes it to outer space.
A Japanese cargo spacecraft delivered a very special package to astronauts aboard the International Space Station Tuesday: Christmas gifts.
Japan sent the cargo vehicle named Kounotori, or white stork, with both practical necessities and a few presents for the holidays. Kounotori arrived bearing several tons of food, water, batteries and other vital supplies for the French, Russian, and American astronauts on board, Associated Press reported.
“The vehicle is beautiful, and it performed flawlessly,” U.S. astronaut Shane Kimbrough told AP.
The effort to capture the Japanese cargo ship, created by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, was a truly international one, according to a tweet from Kimbrough.
He and an astronaut from the European Space Agency used a robotic arm made in Canada to grab the goods while hovering a few hundred miles above Chile.
The successful delivery comes nearly two weeks after a Russian spacecraft caught fire on its way to deliver some 2.6 tons of supplies to the International Space Station December 1. No one was onboard the spacecraft that took off from Kazakhstan and was destroyed in what NASA called “an anomaly,” according to the Washington Post.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station last year were also able to receive their Christmas gifts in time, thanks to a December delivery. The shipment even included what appears to be a tiny tree, according to tweets from U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly.
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft, the “Deke Slayton II,” delivered supplies and holiday treats during a mission carried out Dec. 9, 2015. Orbital ATK is a private company contracted by NASA to deliver supplies to the space station, and like SpaceX and others, it also saw several failed launches before the supplies successfully made it to their destination.