JAXA has successfully recovered a capsule with experiments aboard from the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time.
The HTV Small Re-entry Capsule (HSRC) splashed down in the ocean under a parachute near the island of Minamitorishima. The experimental capsule separated from the HTV-7 (Kounotori) resupply ship after the latter separated from ISS. Kounotori burned up in Earth’s atmosphere as planned.
“Towards the goal to acquire Japan’s first cargo recovery capacity from the ISS, the Small Re-entry Capsule will be demonstrating its guided lift flight capabilities that will enable the capsule to descent under reduced G-forces, as well as its heat protection capability of the ablator while its re-entry into the atmosphere,” JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa said in a press release. “We expect that these efforts will lead to securing flexibility in our future space flight activities.”
HRSC provides another way to return experiments from the space station. SpaceX’s Dragon resupply ship is currently the only dedicated cargo vehicle that can return research. Russia’s crewed Soyuz vehicle has limited space available for experiments when there are three astronauts aboard.
HTV-7 carried approximately 6.2 metric tons of cargo to the space station. Supplies included new ISS batteries using Japanese Lithium-Ion batteries, large experiment racks provided by NASA and ESA, three CubeSats and fresh food.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — After delivering more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments to the International Space Station, a Japanese cargo spacecraft is scheduled to depart the orbiting laboratory 11:50 a.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 7. Live coverage of the spacecraft’s release will begin at 11:30 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Ground controllers will use the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) from an Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, then move the spacecraft into its release position. Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the HTV.
A new, small reentry capsule will be deployed from HTV-7 after release. Designed by JAXA and assembled by the station crew, the conically shaped capsule measures 2 feet in height and 2.7 feet in width. The project is a technology demonstration designed to test JAXA’s ability to return small payloads from the station for expedited delivery to researchers. HTV-7 will be a safe distance away from the space station after the last of several deorbit maneuvers before the capsule is ejected from a hatchway. The experimental capsule will perform a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Japan, where a JAXA ship will be standing by for its recovery.
Named “Kounotori,” or “white stork” in Japanese, the unpiloted cargo spacecraft delivered six new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates to replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries used in two power channels on the space station’s port truss. Flight controllers already have robotically removed the batteries and adapter plates from HTV-7 and stored them on the space station’s truss. The batteries will be replaced through a series of robotic operations and spacewalks that will be scheduled at a later date.
Additional experiments and equipment delivered by HTV include a new sample holder for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (JAXA-ELF), a protein crystal growth experiment at low temperatures (JAXA LT PCG), an investigation that looks at the effect of microgravity on bone marrow (MARROW), a Life Sciences Glovebox, and additional EXPRESS Racks.
HTV-7 will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the South Pacific Ocean Nov. 10.
The spacecraft lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on a Japanese H-IIB rocket on Sept. 22 (Sept. 23 in Japan), and arrived at the space station five days later. The cargo spacecraft will have been on the space station for 41 days at the time of release.
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TANEGASHIMA SPACE CENTER, Japan (JAXA PR) — At 2:52:27 a.m., September 23, 2018, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 7 (H-IIB F7) which carries aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI7” (HTV7), the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS), from the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have cancelled launch of the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 7(H-IIB F7) with aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI7” (HTV7), the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS).
The cancellation is because additional investigation became necessary of the H-IIB F7 propulsion system. The launch was scheduled for September 15, 2018, from the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center.
Launch schedule updates will be informed when determined.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Due to an unfavorable weather forecast for the launch day, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have postponed the launch of the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 7 (H-IIB F7) which carries aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI7” (HTV7), the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS) from the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center. The launch was rescheduled for September 14, 2018. Below is the updated schedule.
MHI and JAXA will consider the weather forecast for the coming days and determine if the updated launch date is available.
Launch Date: September 15, 2018 Launch Time: around 6:00 a.m. (Japan Standard Time, JST) *1
Reserved Launch Period: September 16 through October 31, 2018 *2
*1: Launch time is determined by the latest update of the ISS operations. *2: Launch time and date during this period are pending, to be determined by the ISS operations and other status.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — In the mission of HTV7 (“KOUNOTORI 7”), after completing the re-supply mission to ISS, HTV7 will demonstrate the novel technology for recovering experiment samples from ISS, which Japan has not obtained up until now, by taking advantage of the opportunity of re-entry into Earth with the HTV Small Re-entry Capsule (HSRC) that will be loaded on the HTV for the first time ever. (more…)
JAXA has published the following Q&A interview with Mayumi Matsuura, the space agency’s space situation awareness (SSA) system project manager.
— What is the current state of space debris monitoring in Japan?
Space debris is monitored at the Kamisaibara Spaceguard Center and the Bisei Spaceguard Center, both in Okayama Prefecture. At Kamisaibara, we use radar to monitor debris in low Earth orbit (LEO) up to an altitude of approximately 2,000 km. Although the size of debris that can be monitored depends on its altitude, we can simultaneously track a total of 10 targets 1 meter or more in diameter. At Bisei, we use an optical telescope, which allows us to monitor debris in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) at an altitude of 36,000 km.
JAXA analyzes data from these facilities to pinpoint debris orbit and position, and when this data and other inputs show that there is a possibility of debris colliding with satellites, a warning is issued to the satellite team. This is the role of the Space Tracking and Communications Center (STCC), where I work. To avoid being hit by debris, all you need to do is change your orbit, so the center prepares detailed proposals on when and how to do this. In some cases, debris is expected not to burn up on reentry into the atmosphere, but to fall back to Earth. In these situations, my job is to predict where it will reenter the atmosphere. (more…)
JAXA’s effort to test an electrodynamic tether (EDT) that could help clean up orbital space debris has hit a snag, Japanese media report.
The 700 meter (2,297 ft) long tether was to have deployed from the Kounotori resupply ship after it separated from the International Space Station on Jan. 27. However, JAXA says the tether, which had a mass on the end that weights about 20 kg (44 lb.), did not deploy as planned.
The agency planned to continue trying to try to deploy the tether through Saturday (today). The supply ship is scheduled to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere on Monday.
The tether is designed to slow down a piece of debris by running an electrical current through it. The current will hasten the entry of the debris into the Earth’s atmosphere.
“JAXA plans to perform Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiments (KITE) in order to establish and demonstrate EDT technology and to obtain some EDT characteristics, such as tether deployment dynamics, and electron emission and collection in space plasma,” the space agency says on its website.
“KITE will help us identify the features and key technologies necessary to design and develop an EDT system as a method for improving space safety by removing large debris,” the website states.
HOUSTON, December 13, 2016 (NanoRacks PR) – The Japanese Space Agency JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) cargo spacecraft successfully berthed to the International Space Station (ISS) on its sixth mission on Tuesday, December 13. The berthing occurred after a four-day flight to the station following the spacecraft’s launch Friday evening local time on an H-IIB rocket from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center. The cargo ship arrived with eight NanoRacks customer payloads on board.
TOKYO, December 14, 2016 (JAXA PR) — The H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI6” (HTV6) started its final approach to the International Space Station (ISS), and was captured by the ISS robotic arm at 7:39 p.m. on December 13 (Japanese Standard Time, JST). Being captured and maneuvered by the robotic arm, the HTV6 was successfully berthed to the ISS at 3:24 a.m. on December 14 (JST).
Once after berthing of vehicle, the internal and external cargo will be unloaded by the on board crew.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 6 (H-IIB F6) with cargo transporter to the International Space Station, the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI6” (HTV6) on board at 10:26:47 p.m. on December 9, 2016 (JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center.
The launch vehicle flew as planned, and at approximately 15 minutes and 11 seconds after liftoff, the separation of HTV6 was confirmed.
At the time of the launch,the weather was fine, the wind speed was 4.3 meters/second, from the north-west, and the temperature was 15.5 degrees Celsius.
In another four days, the Russians would have gone a full year without losing a spacecraft in a launch mishap. That’s something that hasn’t happened since 2009-10. In another 30 days, they would have gone an entire calendar year without a launch failure.
The loss of the Progress 65 cargo ship during its launch aboard a Soyuz-U rocket today marks the latest in a string of failures stretching back more than seven years. Since May 2009, Russia has suffered 13 launch failures and four partial failures involving its stable of satellite boosters. (See table below)
JAXA is planning enhancements to its next generation HTV freighter, The Yomiuri Shimbun reports.
According to JAXA, the next-generation model currently in design — dubbed HTV-X — will be able to separate control systems units such as engines from its main body after docking at the ISS.
The engines will be equipped with observational devices so the spacecraft can leave the ISS and orbit as a satellite.
After that, the spacecraft itself will be used as an Earth observation satellite or to monitor space debris, which includes pieces of broken satellites. It will also be able to re-dock with the ISS.
JAXA is considering adding other functions, including for returning capsules containing experiment samples to Earth and connecting the spacecraft with a probe device to depart for other astronomical objects.
At the New Space Conference in June, NanoRacks Founder Jeffrey Manber said his company had signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA focused on using cargo ships for experiments and other uses after they leave the space station. I asked it about it after his talk, and he mentioned the HTV as one of the vehicles the company was looking to use.