LAUNCH ALERT – JAXA TO LAUNCH RESUPPLY MISSION TO THE ISS THIS WEEK (UNMANNED).
Photo By: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (Links below).
At 1948 UTC (1548 EDT) on August 3, 2013 the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be launching the heavy lift H-2B F4 (H-IIB F4) rocket carrying the HTV4 or Kounotori-4 vehicle on a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) from Launch Area-Y2 (Also known as Area-Y2 or LA-Y2) at the Tanegashima Space center (TNSC), Japan. The launch of an H-IIB rocket is a treat because along with the massive rocket sound the rocket literally screams through the air creating an almost eerie moment.
There are 2 active launch pads at Tanegashima, Pad-1 and Pad-2. They are in an area known as the Yoshinobu Launch Complex and designated as Launch Area-Y, Area-Y or LA-Y. They differentiate between pads by placing a (1) or a (2) after the designation, for example if you see basic launch data above you will see the HTV-4 will be launching from Pad-2.
The H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) or Kounotori (Meaning White Stork) is the unmanned Japanese contribution to the resupply efforts on the International Space Station. At about 33ft. (10m) long, 14ft. (4.4m) wide and carrying 5.3 tons of supplies it carries much more than Dragon or the Russian Progress Ship. The HTV vehicle is comprised of a pressurized compartment where astronauts can enter through the berthing hatch as well as an unpressurised cargo storage section that’s accessible via the Canada Arm. 57 solar panels are affixed to the body of the vehicle to provide electricity to the vehicle and to navigate it has 4 main engines and 28 maneuvering thrusters.
The HTV vehicle is disposable meaning after berthing on August 9, 2013 (Not docking as docking is where the vehicle attaches to the ISS on its own. Berthing is when the vehicle has to be captured and attached to the ISS manually) it will remain attached to the ISS for some time. Eventually it will be filled with waste and trash and like the Russian Progress and ESA’s ATV; it will burn up in the atmosphere. HTV-4 is scheduled to leave the ISS on September 4, 2013. Currently only the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft can return items to Earth.
There are seven flights planned in total for the HTV vehicle (This being the fourth) and in the future the HTV-R is planned at this time for 2018. This ship will be able to return items from the ISS back to the Earth.
JAXA’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIB (H2B) rocket was first launched on September 10, 2009 to deliver HTV-1 (Kounotori-1) to the ISS.
It is a two (2) stage expendable rocket and is the heavy lift vehicle in the H-II Rocket Family along with the H-II and the H-IIA and it stands 56m tall.
The first stage is liquid fueled utilizing liquid oxygen & hydrogen (LOX/LH2) to propel its two (2) LE-7A engines that burn for about 352 seconds. It is 38m tall and 5.2m in diameter.
The second stage is also liquid fueled utilizing hydrogen & oxygen (LOX/LH2) to power its single LE-5B engine and it burns for 499 seconds. It is 11m tall and 4m in diameter.
The four (4) strap-on boosters (SRB-A3) are solid fuel boosters utilizing polybutadiene for propellant and they burn for about 114 seconds. They are 15m tall and 2.5m in diameter.
The payload fairing (5S-H) for the H-IIB rocket is 15m in height and has a diameter of 5.1m and is jettisoned after liftoff once it reaches a safe altitude.
The H-IIB has a lift capacity of 19,000 kg to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 8,000 kg to Geostationary Transfer orbit (GTO).
Watch live: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
NASA ISS main site: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
JAXA main site: http://www.jaxa.jp/index_e.html
JAXA Tanegashima Space Center page: http://www.jaxa.jp/about/centers/tnsc/index_e.html
JAXA H-IIB Launch Vehicle page: http://www.jaxa.jp/projects/rockets/h2b/design_e.html
Mitsubishi H-IIA & B Rocket page: http://www.mhi.co.jp/en/products/detail/h2b.html