Category Archives: JAXA

Launch Day for JAXA

JAXA the Japanese Space Agency is going to launch its H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-6 at 8:26 a.m. EST / 13:26 UTC.

About the mission:
Loaded with more than 4.5 tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the six-person station crew, the unpiloted cargo spacecraft, named “Kounotori” – the Japanese word for white stork – will set sail on a four-day flight to the station. Also aboard the resupply vehicle are six new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates that will replace the nickel-hydrogen batteries currently used on the station to store electrical energy generated by the station’s solar arrays. These will be installed during a series of spacewalks currently scheduled in January.

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the HTV-6 will approach the station from below, and slowly inch its way toward the complex. Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to reach out and grapple the 12-ton spacecraft and install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will spend more than five weeks. Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will monitor HTV-6 systems during the rendezvous and grapple.

AKATSUKI Gets to Venus


The AKATSUKI spacecraft reaches Venus. Congratulations JAXA!

The JAXA press release:

As a result of measuring and calculating the AKATSUKI’s orbit after its thrust ejection on Dec. 7, JAXA found that the AKATSUKI was inserted into the Venus orbit. We have already received images from three instruments whose function has already been confirmed, namely the Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), the Longwave IR camera (LIR), and the 1μm camera (IR1). We will check the function of the three other scientific mission instruments and perform initial observation for about three months while gradual… read the rest

Image: JAXA

Canadarm2 Grabs HTV-5


A nice image taken from the ISS showing Japan’s Kounotori 5 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5)a grappled by the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2.

In 2013 during his stay aboard the ISS, Expedition 34 crew member and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield made a video showing us the Canadaarm 2 controls and a bit about how they work.


Images: NASA / JAXA

Fly Kounotori

As I mentioned yesterday the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch a cargo ship to the International Space Station this morning.

The cargo ship named Kounotori which means “White Stork”, is set to deliver more than 3,600 kg (8,000 lb) of supplies and equipment.

Launch coverage begins at 11:00 UTC / 07:00 EDT.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

ISS Cargo Ships


The cause for loss of the Space X cargo ship has not yet been released (other than an oxygen overpressure event) yet. There are other options in the short term for ISS resupply.

The H-II Transfer Vehicle, “Kounotori” (HTV5) is JAXA’s next cargo ship to deliver supplies to the ISS.

The Kounotori is an unmanned cargo ship capable of delivering six tons of supplies of all types to the International Space Station. The cargo ship will be launched by the H-IIB launch vehicle and can remain berthed to the ISS for about 45 days. The vehicle and will be loaded with waste material before departure and will burn up in the atmosphere.

Kounotori is being assembled at the Tanegashima Space Center in preparation for launch.

The scheduled launch date will be 16 August at around 10:01 p.m. Japan Standard Time (JST). If weather or other issues delay the launch there is a wide launch window stretching from 17 August to 30 September.

Launch will occur at Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center.

Image of JAXA’s HTV in flight. credit: JAXA et al.

Akari’s View of Cygnus

The JAXA mission Akari recently released an all-sky survey. The mission observed 99 percent of the entire sky over a period of 16 months at four far infrared wavelengths: 65, 90, 140 and 160 micrometers.



This particular image of the constellation Cygnus was constructed from three wavelengths: 65 micrometers coded as blue, 90 for green and 140 for red. The result is very nice and much different that we see when we look up at this very familiar constellation.
From ESA (Space in Images):

The constellation of Cygnus is one of the most recognisable in the northern hemisphere. During the summer months, the stars of its long neck stretch along the Milky Way and its wings sweep from side to side.

Switch to the invisible wavelengths of the far-infrared and the Milky Way’s river of stars disappears to reveal tendrils of cold dust. Shown here, in this image from Japan’s Akari space observatory, are the central regions of Cygnus, and it can be seen that the Milky Way displays a rich stock of dust.

This dust is part of the interstellar medium, which also contains gas. These infrared images reveal the detailed distribution of the interstellar medium, highlighting areas where bright, new stars are about to emerge in the Milky Way.

Far-infrared light is the key wavelength range for investigating stars and planet formation. When the interstellar medium gathers together under the attraction of its own gravity, it forms a giant molecular cloud. These can be hundreds of light-years across. Denser parts, just a few tenths of a light-year across, are known as molecular cloud cores. These are where stars and planets form.

Akari images, such as this one, are the only images in which scientists can closely examine the entire giant molecular cloud with the resolution of a molecular cloud core.

Credit: JAXA and ESA. I should note that ESA is a participant in the Akari mission.

Jupiter’s Aurora

Credit: JAXA
Credit: JAXA

Last week we had a beautiful display of the aurora courtesy of a solar storm. Other planets are known to have auroral activity. Jupiter included, however the giant planet has auroral activity that isn’t always due to solar storms

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) using their Hisaki satellite detected flare-ups get started by the interaction with the Jupiter moon Io and the planet. The results of two months observing Jupiter with Hisaki were published in a paper by Tomoki Kimura of JAXA and his colleagues in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.



The JAXA Hayabusa2 spacecraft at the Sagamihara Campus.  Credit: JAXA
The JAXA Hayabusa2 spacecraft at the Sagamihara Campus. Credit: JAXA

On 30 November 2014 JAXA will launch the Haybusa2 mission to asteroid 1999JU3. This mission is a successor to Haybusa which launched in 2003 to the asteroid Itokawa. The spacecraft arrived in 2005 and released a little probe called “Minerva” which actually touched down on the asteroid twice.

There was a sample return on the Hayabusa mission which eventuualy did make it back but not until major obstacles were overcome. In December 2005 communications with the spacecraft was lost. JAXA never once gave in, they regained contact in January 2006, fired up the ion engine and headed home in February 2007. Finally in June 2010 and after an engine anomaly the samples were returned to Earth.

Hayabusa was an incredible mission to say the least.

Now Hayabusa 2 is set to launch and this time it sports a small impactor to make a small crater on 1999JU3. More details are sure to come out but Hayabusa 2 will also be a sample return mission.

Launch date: 30 November 2014
Launch time: 13:24 JST (only if launched on first try, it will vary after that)
Launch site: Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center