Japanese space agency JAXA successfully launched an unmanned spacecraft into orbit in a cargo resupply mission for the International Space Station.
HTV-5 blasted off at 7:50 a.m. EDT on Aug. 19 from Tanegashima Space Center, located on the island of Tanegashima in the East China Sea southeast of mainland Japan. The launch was delayed twice for a total of three days by forecasts of unfavorable weather.
The cargo spacecraft successfully separated from its rocket 15 minutes after launch and began its five-day journey to the International Space Station.
On Aug. 24, the HTV-5 will approach ISS from below, slowly inching its way toward a docking position. Expedition 44 Flight Engineers Kimiya Yui of JAXA and Kjell Lindgren of NASA will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to grab the 12-ton spacecraft and install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will spend five weeks. Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA will monitor HTV-5 systems during the rendezvous and grapple.
Nicknamed Kounotori, which is Japanese for “white stork,” the HTV-5 is carrying more than 9,500 pounds of supplies and materials. Its cargo manifest was adjusted in the aftermath of a failed cargo resupply mission by SpaceX on June 28, and NASA said JAXA’s cargo delivery will ensure that the ISS crew “has plenty of food through the end of 2015.”
HTV-5 is delivering equipment needed for the space station’s water recycling, along with sundry other supplies such as water, spare parts, and materials for scientific and commercial experiments by the ISS’ six crewmembers. Items in that last category include a supply of Japanese whiskey.
Suntory, a Tokyo-based brewing and distillery company, is sending whiskey to the space station to test effects of zero gravity on the aging process. Suntory also sent other types of alcohol and will compare space aging with samples aged back in Japan.
Earlier this year, Japanese brewer Ninkasi sent its yeast into space for use on Earth in its Ground Control Stout, and other international brewing companies also have staged various experiments. Suntory will retrieve some of its whiskey later in the year and leave other samples on the space station for two years.