Japanese HTV-9 Cargo Ship Completes Space Station Resupply Mission
Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship is on its own after being released from the Canadarm2 robotic arm completing a three-month cargo mission at the station.
Eleven years after the launch of the first H-II Transfer cargo vehicle (HTV) to the International Space Station, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA’s) HTV-9 departed the orbital laboratory yesterday at 1:36 p.m. EDT.
Earlier today, flight controllers operating from NASA’s Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston used the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the cargo spacecraft from the station’s Harmony module, then moved the spacecraft into its release position. Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the spacecraft from the station at 1:35 p.m., ending its three-month stay.
This was the final station departure of JAXA’s first-generation Kounotori, or “white stork,” cargo craft, nine of which have delivered more than 40 tons of supplies to space station crews. JAXA is developing a new fleet of HTV cargo craft, the HTV-X, which is targeted for its first launch in 2022.
The spacecraft launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on May 20, arriving May 25 to deliver about four tons of supplies and experiments to the orbital complex, including new lithium-ion batteries that were used to upgrade the station’s power systems. The new-technology batteries were installed through a series of spacewalks along the far port truss “backbone” of the station.