News Flash: Japanese Robotic ISS Cargo Ship to Burn Up in Earth Atmosphere on Re-entry Today


Japan's HTV-2 robotic cargo ship above is seen just before astronauts grapple it on Jan. 27, 2011. The spacecraft, one of several robotic cargo ships that ferry supplies to the International Space Station, is carrying a device to "phone home" during its planned death plunge into Earth's atmosphere today.

The spacecraft, Japan's unmanned cargo ship Kounotori 2, is due to intentionally incinerate today when it re-enters Earth's atmosphere one day after leaving the ISS. In addition to the station trash packed on Kounotori 2, a high-tech sensor is ready to track the finer details of the spacecraft's re-entry and fate with a Re-entry Breakup Recorder – REBR– a small and autonomous sensors built to record temperature, acceleration, rotational rate and other data during Kounotori 2's re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

"REBR is made possible by tiny little instruments, tiny sensors and tiny cell phone technology. It is basically a satellite phone with a heat shield," according to William Ailor, Director of the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies at The Aerospace Corporation in an interview with

Image below is an artist's illustration of Japan's robotic cargo ship, the H-2 Transfer Vehicle, burning up in Earth's atmosphere at the end of its mission. Image credit: JAXA


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