The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transport Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) has been loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts, and experiments and is scheduled to lift off from the Tanegashima Space Center and launch to the International Space Station at 6:32 p.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 10 (7:32 a.m. Sept. 11 in Japan). The HTV-7 is scheduled to arrive at the Space Station Friday, Sept. 14.
The unpiloted cargo spacecraft has been named ‘Kounotori’ (white stork in Japanese). It is loaded with six new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates to replace the station’s aging nickel-hydrogen batteries of its electrical power system. The batteries are due to be replaced on September 20 and 26 through a series of robotic operations and two spacewalks.
The HTV-7 spacecraft will also carry a small reentry capsule designed by JAXA to be assembled by the station crew prior to HTV-7’s departure. The cone-shaped capsule measures 2 feet in height and 2.7 feet in width. It is an experimental technology demonstration designed to test JAXA’s ability to return small Japanese science cargo from the station for accelerated delivery to researchers.
The HTV-7 plans to eject the capsule after departure from the station and several deorbit maneuvers. The capsule is to be ejected from the spacecraft’s hatch for a parachute-assisted descent off Japan’s coast and recovered by a JAXA ship.
Additionally, the HTV-7 spacecraft includes a new sample holder for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (JAXA-ELF), a low-temperature assisted protein crystal growth experiment (JAXA LT PCG), an investigation observing the effect of microgravity on bone marrow (MARROW), a Life Sciences Glovebox, and additional EXPRESS Racks.
The operation of the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the spacecraft will be done by NASA’s Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor so as to capture the spacecraft’s approach from below. Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-7 systems during its approach to the orbiting complex.
NASA Television and NASA website has planned to air the live coverage of the launch and capture from 6 am onwards. capture is anticipated at around 7:40 a.m.
NASA TV coverage will resume at 11 a.m. after a break and will show the installation of the HTV-7 to the space station’s Harmony module by ground controllers operating Canadarm2 remotely. This launch comes nine years to the day after the flight of the first HTV cargo spacecraft.
HTV-7 spacecraft is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere this fall after its deorbit maneuvers to non-toxically dissipate over the South Pacific Ocean.