JAXA's Kounotori 9 cargo spacecraft launches successfully on final mission
Japan Times -- May 22
Japan launched a rocket Thursday carrying a Kounotori unmanned cargo vessel, developed by the national space agency, on its final mission to transport supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

The H-IIB rocket carrying the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori 9 lifted off at 2:31 a.m. from the remote Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Fifteen minutes later, the Kounotori was detached from the rocket and put into a planned orbit. The cargo vessel, which can hold up to 6 tons of supplies, has been launched successfully in all nine of its missions dating back to 2009.

The launch was the last for both the Kounotori, which means “stork” in Japanese, and the H-IIB rocket, developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

“We would like to proceed with each and every task, and round off its final mission with a triumph,” said Keiji Suzuki, a member of the heavy machinery maker’s space program, during a virtual news conference Tuesday.

The cylindrical cargo transporter carrying food, equipment for experiments and other provisions is scheduled to dock at the space station on May 25, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The space agency and Mitsubishi Heavy took extra precautions so as not to carry the new coronavirus to the island where the launch took place. Tanegashima, which has not yet reported any infections, has a population consisting largely of elderly people, and only limited medical facilities are available.

News source: Japan Times
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