SpaceX Crew Preps for Launch as Japanese Cargo Heads to Station

SpaceX Crew Preps for Launch as Japanese Cargo Heads to Station

The crew of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission NASA astronauts (from left) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
The crew of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission: NASA astronauts (from left) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

The International Space Station will welcome a pair of different spaceships next week. Japan’s space freighter will arrive first on Monday followed by the first crewed mission from SpaceX on Thursday.

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) is in space racing toward the orbiting lab following its launch from Japan on Wednesday. The HTV-9, nicknamed Kounotori, or “white stork”, will arrive at the station Monday packed with over four tons of crew supplies, space experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade station power systems.

Commander Chris Cassidy will be on deck Monday in the cupola to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori at 8:15 a.m. EDT. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will back up Cassidy and monitor the approach and rendezvous of the HTV-9. The duo has been training for a couple of weeks on a computer to get ready for Kounotori’s arrival. NASA TV’s live coverage of the robotic capture and installation will begin at 6:45 a.m. Monday.

The Expedition 63 crew is also preparing to welcome two NASA astronauts next week after they dock to the station inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The first Commercial Crew with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken arrived in Florida Wednesday and is in final preparations for launch on May 27 at 4:33 p.m. from Kennedy Space Center. They will dock the following day at 11:39 a.m. to the Harmony module’s forward-facing International Docking Adapter.

Cassidy has been familiarizing himself this week with the Crew Dragon’s automated rendezvous and docking procedures. He set up a command and control device that will relay communications and telemetry back and forth with the Crew Dragon as it nears the space station next week.

Veteran Russian Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin has been keeping up with his lab maintenance tasks while his crewmates get ready for the Kounotori’s arrival. The three-time station resident serviced computers and life support gear and updated station inventory systems today.

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Mark Garcia

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Japanese Cargo Vehicle Lifts Off To Resupply Station Crew

Japanese Cargo Vehicle Lifts Off To Resupply Station Crew

Japan's HTV-9 cargo craft moments after liftoff
Japan’s HTV-9 cargo craft moments after liftoff from the at the Tanegashima Space Center

Carrying four tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station, HTV-9 launched from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on Wednesday, May 20 at 1:31 p.m. EDT (2:31 a.m. Thursday, May 21, Japan time).

The cargo vehicle will arrive at the station Monday, May 25. Live coverage of rendezvous and grapple will begin at 6:45 a.m. and capture of HTV-9 is scheduled to occur around 8:15 a.m. and coverage of HTV-9’s final installation will begin at 9:30 a.m.

HTV-9 will approach the station from below and slowly make its way toward the orbital outpost. Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA, with assistance from Russian Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola and grapple the 12-ton spacecraft.

The cargo includes six new lithium-ion batteries needed to complete an overall update of the station’s electrical system. The batteries and corresponding adapter plates will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far starboard truss segment (S6) through a series of spacewalks by the station’s crew members planned for later this year. This is the final set of new batteries to be launched to the station as part of an overall upgrade of its power system that began in January 2017. Learn more about the science experiments and technology heading to station here.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station will be flying about 256 statute miles over the Atlantic Ocean just off the southern coast of Brazil.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

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Norah Moran

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Japanese Space Freighter Launch to Station Live on NASA TV

Japanese Space Freighter Launch to Station Live on NASA TV

Japan's HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket
Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket at the Tanegashima Space Center

NASA has begun live launch coverage of the Japanese cargo spacecraft carrying more than four tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

The H-II Transport Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) spacecraft is scheduled to launch on a Japanese H-IIB rocket at 1:31 p.m. (2:31 a.m. Thursday, May 21, Japan time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

This will be the final flight of this class of resupply spacecraft, named “Kounotori” – the Japanese word for white stork. The cargo craft launched on its maiden mission to the orbiting laboratory in September 2009. JAXA is developing a new class of HTV vehicles that will provide a reusable pressurized cargo section and the ability to carry more cargo due to its lighter weight. The new HTV-X vehicles will dock automatically to the station’s International Docking Adapters with the first flight scheduled in 2022.

Learn more about the science experiments and technology heading to station here.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

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Norah Moran

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NASA TV Broadcasts Japanese Launch to Station Live on Wednesday

NASA TV Broadcasts Japanese Launch to Station Live on Wednesday

Japan's HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket
Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket at the Tanegashima Space Center in September of 2019. Credit: JAXA

NASA Television will provide live launch coverage of a Japanese cargo spacecraft carrying more than four tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are scheduled to launch the unpiloted H-II Transport Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) on a Japanese H-IIB rocket at 1:31 p.m. (2:31 a.m. Thursday, May 21, Japan time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

The spacecraft will arrive at the station Monday, May 25 and live coverage of the rendezvous and grapple will begin at 6:45 a.m. Capture of HTV-9 is scheduled to occur around 8:15 a.m. and coverage of HTV-9’s final installation will begin at 9:30 a.m.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

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Mark Garcia

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Japan Ready for Cargo Launch, Crew Works Science and Emergency Procedures

Japan Ready for Cargo Launch, Crew Works Science and Emergency Procedures

The city lights of Japan
The city lights of Japan, with Tokyo at bottom, seemingly trail off onto into an orbital sunrise as the space station orbited 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean.

Japan is less than a day from launching its ninth mission to resupply the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the three-member Expedition 63 crew continued space science operations and practiced for an emergency.

More than four tons of crew supplies, station experiments and lithium-ion batteries are ready to head to the station inside the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9). The spacecraft from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will lift off from the Tanegashima Space Center on Wednesday at 12:31 p.m. EDT (1:31 a.m. May 21 Japanese time).

The HTV-9 will arrive at the orbiting lab on Monday, May 25 for a robotic capture with the Canadarm2 at 8:15 a.m. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy brushed up on his robotics skills today and will lead the capture activities from the cupola. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will back up Cassidy and monitor the HTV-9’s approach and rendezvous. NASA TV is covering all the HTV-9 launch and capture activities live.

Vagner started Tuesday checking out medical gear for ear, nose and throat exams and ended the day synchronizing cameras in the station’s Russian segment. Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin continued servicing the Combustion Integrated Rack as he swapped out fuel bottles inside the device that enables fuel, flame and soot research in microgravity.

Finally, the crew gathered together during mid-afternoon and reviewed their roles and responsibilities in the unlikely event of an emergency. The trio practiced communicating with Houston and Moscow mission controllers, checked out safety gear and reviewed evacuation paths and procedures.

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Mark Garcia

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