Japan’s Kounotori 2 spacecraft set for lift off to ISS
According to reports, Japan's Kounotori 2 spacecraft will lift off for the International Space Station (ISS) from the country's Tanegashima Space Center at 12:37 a. m. EST (0537 GMT) on Saturday, January 22. The earlier-scheduled launch of the spacecraft on Thursday, January 20, was delayed owing to unfavorable weather forecasts.
If the launch goes according to plan, the Kounotori 2 - JAXA's second-ever unmanned cargo vessel to the ISS - will arrive at the space station on January 27. The spacecraft is on a mission to deliver 5.3 tons of food, supplies and spare parts to the ISS.
As per the information shared by JAXA officials, the Kounotori 2 is a 33 feet-long and 14 feet wide gold-colored cylinder, which is capable of carrying up to 6 tons of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the ISS.
Talking about Japan's Kounotori freighters - officially called H-2 Transfer Vehicles (HTVs) -, NASA officials revealed that theses spacecrafts, along with European and Russian robotic cargo ships, will play a substantial role in hauling up supplies to the ISS in the future, once the US space agency's shuttle fleet, the main supplier at the space station, is retired later thus year.
Other than the Japanese, European, and Russian freighters, NASA will also haul future deliveries to the ISS with the help of commercial craft currently being developed by private firms like SpaceX and Orbital Sciences.