Feeds

Japan hurls first space freighter at ISS

No pressure, maybe

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Japan's first unmanned space freighter was launched today, stocked with cargo and equipment for the International Space Station.

The H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 1:01 pm EDT (17:03 GMT) atop an H-2B rocket, which was also making a maiden flight. The spacecraft's success will be vitally important to the ISS as another way to deliver crucial equipment to the orbiting station after NASA's space shuttle fleet is retired next year.

To date, the orbit outpost's care packages been hauled by the American Space Shuttle, Russian Soyuz and Progress, and more recently, the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).

But unlike automated craft built by Russia and Europe, the HTV is designed to carry both pressurized and unpressurized cargo. That comes in handy for the ISS's Kibo laboratory, which recently added a "front porch" to let astronauts expose experiments to space.

HTV-1

HTV's insides, credit: JAXA

The HTV also departs from other unmanned space freighters by the way it docks with the station. When the HTV approaches, it will be positioned about 10 meters away from the ISS, at a relative stop. The station's crew will then use the ISS's Canadian robo-arm to grab hold of the HTV and berth it to the Harmony module's Earth-facing port.

The HTV is expected to reach the station on September 17, loaded with about 3.5 tons of food, supplies, and experiments. The four meter across by 10 meters long space freighter can haul a maximum of six tons, but JAXA is taking it easy for the debut.

After about a month, the the $20 billion yen ($217m) space freighter is expected to detach from the outpost and return to Earth, burning up as it enters the atmosphere.

The vehicle is also designed to be modified in the future to carry humans - and quite understandably - have a way of returning to Earth without being reduced to charcoal. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.