Japan’s first cargo spacecraft

The first JAXA H-II Transfer Vehicle HTV-1 is launched to the International Space Station from the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan.

H-II Transfer Vehicle

H-II Transfer Vehicle

The H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) is an unmanned resupply spacecraft used to resupply the Kibō Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) and the rest of the International Space Station (ISS).

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been working on the design since the early 1990s.

The first mission, HTV-1, was originally intended to be launched in 2001. It lifted-off at 17:01 UTC on September 10, 2009 on an H-IIB launch vehicle.

HTV is about 9.2 m long (including maneuvering thrusters at one end) and 4.4 m in diameter. Empty, it weighs 10.5 tons. HTV is a larger and simpler vehicle than the Progress spacecraft currently used by Russia to bring supplies to the station, since it does not have a complex docking and approach system.

Progress spacecraft M-52

Progress spacecraft M-52

Instead, it will be flown just close enough to the station to allow capture by Canadarm2, which will pull it to a berthing port on the ISS Harmony module.

HTV can carry supplies in a combination of two different “segments” that can be attached together. One is a pressurized hold with a capacity of 6,000 kg, which includes an optional docking adapter at one end to allow it to be unloaded in a shirt-sleeves environment. It is designed specifically to carry eight International Standard Payload Racks in total.

After the planned retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle in 2010, HTV will be the only vehicle which can carry ISPRs to the ISS. It will also have a tank to deliver up to 300 kg of water to the station. The other is a lighter and slightly longer unpressurized segment, which includes a hatch on the side to allow it to be unloaded remotely.



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