Feeds

Japan hurls first space freighter at ISS

No pressure, maybe

The next step in data security

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. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.