The International Space Station (ISS) has docked the first Japanese cargo spacecraft, the demonstration flight H-II transfer vehicle (HTV) using a robotic arm to capture and berth the vehicle.

The HTV, launched from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Tanegashima space centre carried about 4.5t of supplies for the ISS including food, water, clothing, laptops and other equipment.

The HTV also transported exterior supplies comprising two new earth-observation experiments to be placed on the exposed terrace outside the Japanese Kibo module of the ISS.

The Japanese vehicle is the first spacecraft to visit the ISS that does not drive itself all the way to berthing.

After the HTV’s pressurised supplies are transferred to the station, the vehicle will return with waste material and used experiments in a controlled burn-up over the Pacific Ocean.