Image credit & copyright: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Launch Alert: Friday, December 9, at 13:26 UTC (08:26 EST & 22:26 JST) the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be launching the Mitsubishi heavy lift H-2B F6 (H-IIB F6) rocket carrying the HTV-6 cargo 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 incredibly beautiful 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. The HTV is also, at least to me, the most visually appealing of all the Space Station supply ships.
Rendezvous, grapple and berthing will take place on Tuesday, December 13 when the White Stork will be berthed to the nadir (Earth-facing) side of the Harmony Module (Node-2).
There are 2 active launch pads at Tanegashima; Launch Pad-1 (LP-1) and Launch Pad-2 (LP-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. H-IIA rockets launch from Pad-1 while H-IIB rockets launch from Pad-2.
The H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) aka; Kounotori “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 5.5 metric tons of supplies to include 4.5 metric tons of pressurized cargo in the Pressurized Logistics Carrier (PLC) and 1 metric ton of unpressurized cargo in the Unpressurized Logistics Carrier (UPL). It carries much more than Dragon or the Russian Progress Ship. 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, which means that after berthing (Not docking as docking is where the vehicle connects to Station 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 approximately six months. Eventually it will be filled with waste and like the Russian Progress ship as well as the Orbital/ATK Cygnus and previous ESA ATV ships; it will burn up in the atmosphere. Currently only the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft can return items to Earth from space.
There are seven flights planned in total for the HTV vehicle (this being the sixth) 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 standing 56.6 m (183.7 ft.) tall and is the heavy lift workhorse in the H-II Rocket stable. The H-IIB has a lift capacity of 19,000 kg (18.5 tons) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 8,000 kg (8 tons) to Geostationary Transfer orbit (GTO).
Payload Fairing (5S): for the H-IIB rocket is 15m (49.2 ft.) in height and has a diameter of 5.1 m (16.7 ft.) and is jettisoned after liftoff once it reaches a safe altitude where turbulence from the air resistance won’t be a problem.
Second Stage: is liquid fueled utilizing hydrogen & oxygen (LOX/LH2) to power a single LE-5B engine and it burns for 499 seconds. It is 11 m (36 ft.) tall and 4 m (13.1 ft.) in diameter. The second stage can be re-ignited up to three times.
Strap-on Boosters (SRB-A’s): are solid fuel boosters utilizing polybutadiene for propellant and they burn for about 114 seconds. They are 15.1 m (49.5 ft.) tall and 2.5 m (8.2 ft.) in diameter.
First Stage: is liquid fueled utilizing liquid oxygen & hydrogen (LOX/LH2) to propel its two LE-7A engines that burn for about 352 seconds. It is 38 m (124.6 ft.) tall and 5.2 m (17 ft.) in diameter.
Launch coverage begins: Fri, Dec 9 @ 08:00 EST (13:00 UTC).
Capture & Berthing coverage begins: Tues, Dec 13 @ 04:30 EST (09:30 UTC).
NASA TV YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/NASAtelevision
NASA TV on USTREAM: http://www.ustream.tv/NASAHDTV
JAXA on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/jaxachannel
U Stream: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/jaxa-live
JAXA HTV-6 Press Release: http://global.jaxa.jp/press/2016/12/20161207_h2bf6.html
JAXA HTV-6 mission page w’ links: http://global.jaxa.jp/projects/rockets/htv/
JAXA HTV-6 mission: http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/htv/mission/htv-6/
JAXA HTV-6 payload: http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/htv/mission/htv-6/payload/
JAXA H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV): http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/htv/index.html
JAXA H-II overview: http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/htv/overview/
JAXA H-II components: http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/htv/spec/
JAXA H-II operations: http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/htv/operation/
JAXA HTV-6 Mission Imagery: http://jda.jaxa.jp/category_p.php?lang=e&page=&category1=1&category2=23&category3=604&page_pics=100
JAXA Social Media:
JAXA main site: http://global.jaxa.jp/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/explore/jaxa
JAXA H-IIB Rocket:
JAXA H-IIB launch vehicle: http://global.jaxa.jp/activity/pr/brochure/files/rocket05.pdf
JAXA H-IIB rocket: http://global.jaxa.jp/projects/rockets/h2b/
JAXA H-IIB overview: http://global.jaxa.jp/countdown/h2bf1/overview/h2b_e.html
JAXA Digital Image Archives: http://jda.jaxa.jp/en/
JAXA Digital Image Archives (Rockets): http://jda.jaxa.jp/category_p.php?lang=e&page=&category1=1&category2=&page_pics=50
Tanegashima Space Center:
Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC), Japan: http://global.jaxa.jp/about/centers/tnsc/index.html
Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC), Japan PDF: http://global.jaxa.jp/activity/pr/brochure/files/centers02_e.pdf?bcsi_scan_df193da5ba4c5bc6=0&bcsi_scan_filename=centers02_e.pdf