JAXA’s HTV4 Launch

On August 4, 2013 at 4:48:46 a.m. JST (Japan Standard Time) the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI 4″ (HTV-4) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

JAXA's H-II Transfer Vehicle "KOUNOTORI" (HTV)  Image: JAXA

JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI” (HTV). Image: JAXA

KOUNOTORI 4 is an unmanned cargo transfer vehicle, four meters across and about 10 meters long (33 ft by 13 ft), a size large enough to accommodate a bus. On this trip it is loaded with 3.5 tons of supplies, food and experiment hardware for the International Space Station and the Expedition 36 crew. The items include test samples for research experiments inside the Kibo laboratory, a new freezer capable of preserving materials at temperatures below -90 F and my favorite – four CubeSat satellites.

Arrival is scheduled for Friday, August 9th when the HTV-4 will move slowly into a holding position just 12 meters (40 ft) from the ISS. Once in position, Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Chris Cassidy will use Canadarm2, the station’s robotic arm to grapple the vehicle in order to dock it to the ISS. Systems aboard KOUNOTORI4 will be monitored by Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano and when everything is ready the Canadarm2 will be commanded by the robotics team in Houston’s Mission Control center to install the vehicle to the Harmony node.

Excellent job on a beautiful launch JAXA!