A little while ago the HTV-6 spacecraft blasted off atop a H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima space center in Japan for a resupply mission to the International Space Station. About fifteen minutes after the launch, the cargo spacecraft separated regularly from the rocket’s last stage, entered its preliminary orbit and deployed its solar panels and navigation antennas.
The HTV-6 (H-II Transfer Vehicle) spacecraft is also called Kounotori, which means white stork. It carries a total of more than 4.5 tons of cargo to the International Space Station between the pressurized and non-pressurized section. There are supplies such as water and food for the crew as well as new instruments, scientific experiments, various hardware and some CubeSat-class nanosatellites to be put into orbit from the Station.
In particular, over a ton of weight is made up by the six new lithium-ion batteries and related accessories that will replace old batteries. They will be used to accumulate the energy from one of the solar arrays blocks on the International Space Station. For this reason, they not only constitute a considerable part of the cargo but also a very important part for the Station’s maintenance.
After the mishap that caused the failure of the Russian Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft’s resupply mission at the beginning of December, it’s important for the HTV-6 mission to succeed. However, there are problems for the International Space Station crew because the availability of food, water and oxygen is always broad exactly because there may be delays in resupplies.
The destruction of a cargo always causes delays in the activities because the scientific experiments and the instruments that are lost need to be replaced and this requires months. However, at least for the moment there are no talks of additional refueling missions and nothing was added at the last moment to the HTV-6 cargo spacecraft.
The HTV-6 spacecraft went into a route that takes about four days to reach its destination so it’s scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station next Tuesday, around 11 UTC. It will be captured by the Canadarm2 robotic arm, like the Dragon and Cygnus.