On September 25, 1:05 a.m., Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) H2B rocket loading the unmanned spacecraft HTV8 (H-II Transfer Vehicle 8, a.k.a Kounotori) was launched from Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima to carry goods and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). HTV-8 was placed into orbit about 15 minutes after the launch and all berthing operations were completed at 2:55 a.m. on September 29. HTV-8 was successfully connected to ISS. Its Japanese name Kounotori means white stork.
This was the first launch after Japan’s Space Activity Act was enacted in November 2018 and the responsibility for launch was transferred from JAXA to MHI. HTV-8 was originally scheduled to for launch on September 11, but it was postponed due to a fire at the launch pad.
H-II Transfer Vehicles have been launched 8 times over the last 10 years, and all have been successful. HTV-8 is cylindrical with a total length of 10 meters and a diameter of 4.4 meters. In addition to food, the aircraft transported about 5.3 tons of tanks, batteries, and experimental equipment for supplying nitrogen and oxygen. Because there was still some food for stock at ISS, the postponement of HTV-8’s launch did not have any negative impact.