Japan is once again being put into the spotlight as it prepares for a blast off from the picturesque Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. NASA officials have recently revealed that a Japanese cargo ship loaded with nearly four tons of supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station which includes a set of replacement batteries for the lab's solar arrays. If all goes according to plan, authorities claimed that the unmanned freighter will arrive at the ISS on Tuesday, December 13.
Japan's Kounotori 6: How Essential Is It For Space Exploration?
According to reports by CBS News, it was found that the HTV-6, or Kounotori, cargo ship, that is mounted on the top of a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIB rocket, is scheduled for liftoff at 8:26:47 a.m. EST (GMT-5; 10:26 p.m. local time). Consequently, manufacturers of the said cargo ship claims that it will allow the booster to climb directly away from the rocky coast of Tanegashima Island and into the plane of the space station's orbit.
However, Space has revealed that ISS cargo missions don't always go according to plan. Just last week, for example, Russia's uncrewed Progress 65 vessel has suffered a major failure shortly after launch and fell back to Earth, which resulted in the loss of more than 2.5 tons (2.3 metric tons) of cargo. On the other hand, as its name suggests, Kounotori 6 will be the sixth HTV mission to launch toward the ISS. It was found that the previous five missions were all successful.
Meanwhile, authorities have already explained that the cargo vessel which carries the new batteries will be pulled out of the supply ship's unpressurized compartment by the station's robot and moved to the right side of the power truss where the batteries will be robotically installed at the base of the inboard starboard 4, or S4, set of arrays. It was found that two additional spacewalks will be needed in January in order to install the adapter plates and move the older batteries around as required.