Japan launches Kounotori 6 cargo spaceship to ISS

Japan on Friday successfully launched a rocket carrying the unmanned cargo spaceship Kounotori 6 to deliver supplies for astronauts living in the International Space Station (ISS). The H-2B rocket carrying the spaceship lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, at 10:26 p.m. local time (GMT 1326).

The spaceship, sixth of its kind, carries some 5.9 tonnes of supplies, including food, drinking water and other necessities, as well as some batteries and ultrasmall satellites. It is expected to dock with the ISS on Tuesday, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. After the supplies are unloaded to the ISS, the spaceship will then be loaded with waste materials, including used experiment equipment or used clothes and then undock. Before re-entering the atmosphere, the Kounotori 6 will also conduct experiment on an electrodynamic tether, called the Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment (KITE).

The launch, originally scheduled for September 2016, was postponed due to piping leakage. Developed and built in Japan, the Kounotori spacecraft, also known as H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), has been used to deliver supplies to the space station. The first mission of the HTV, or Kounotori 1, was launched in 2009.

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