An H-IIB rocket successfully placed the automatic Japanese HTV-3 cargo ship also known as Kounotori in orbit on Saturday 21 July. It is due to dock with the International Space Station on 27 July.
“Kounotori 3” atop its H-IIB launch vehicle blasted off on 21 July. Credit: JAXA
It was 11:06, on Saturday 21 July, when the H-IIB rocket (the most powerful version of the H-IIA) lifted off from its launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Centre (Japan). In just a couple of seconds the spaceship was hidden by thick cloud. Faultlessly following its trajectory, the rocket then successfully placed the HTV-3 freighter in orbit (see the video below).
The HTV-3 is the third cargo ship to be sent to the ISS, International Space Station, by JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency. The three letters of HTV refer to H-IIB (for the launch vehicle) and Transfer Vehicle. The spaceship is also dubbed Kounotori, which means stork in the language of the Land of the Rising Sun, an allusion to the fact that this bird brings good news or a new-born infant whilst the HTV also transports “good news”, that is provisions and equipment needed aboard the ISS (but not the baby!).
This Kounotori 3 is due to rendezvous with the Station (aboard which Japanese astronaut, Akihiko Hoshide, is currently a resident) on Friday 27 July at 14:05 French time. It will then be captured by the Canadian robotic arm Canadarm 2 belonging to the orbiting complex so that it can be “mated” with the Harmony module according to a procedure similar to that used for the private Dragon cargo capsule (see this article). It should be noted, however, that it was the first HTV that inaugurated this capture method in September 2009. This Enjoy Space feature explains all about HTV cargo ships. Published on 23 July 2012
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