2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
The Japanese space agency has launched a cargo vehicle HTV-7 to the International Space Station, which will deliver equipment, materials for experiments and food for the crew. In addition, the spacecraft will bring the STARS-Me satellite to the ISS, with the help of which the agency's engineers will test technologies that in the future can be used to build a "space elevator". The launch was broadcast on the agency's YouTube channel.
The Japanese space agency supplies its Kibo module and the ISS as a whole with HTV cargo spacecraft. This type of ships is the most cargo-carrying one among all cargo vehicles that are currently used to deliver cargo to the station - the maximum payload weight HTV is 6, 2 tons. One of the technical drawbacks of the spacecraft is that upon returning to Earth, it burns up in the dense layers of the atmosphere, which is why it cannot be used to deliver the results of scientific research carried out on the ISS.
The HTV-7 mission should be the first in which this ship will still manage to return cargo to Earth intact. For this, the HTV-7 was equipped with an HSRC (HTV Small Re-entry Capsule) capsule with a sealed container, into which astronauts on the ISS can accommodate cargo with a total weight of 20 kilograms. After the spacecraft has separated from the station and its engines give it enough momentum to de-orbit, the capsule will detach and fly on its own. In the last stage, she will release parachutes and land near the island of Minamitori, where it will be lifted by a Japanese vessel.
HSRC capsule (background) and internal containers for stowage
A medium-class H-IIB launch vehicle with an HTV-7 on board launched from the Yoshinobu pad of the Tanegashima Space Center on September 22 at 20:52 Moscow time. After arriving at the ISS, the spacecraft will capture the Canadarm2 robotic arm, which will move it to the docking gateway of the Harmony module, adjacent to the Japanese Kibo module.
Cargo in HTV-7 is housed in two compartments - sealed and non-sealed. The first contains 4.3 tons of cargo, including racks for scientific equipment, a glove box for experiments and a life support system developed by the European Space Agency that will convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and methane. Also in the pressurized compartment is food and other items for the crew, an experimental closed-loop radiator developed by the agency and three nanosatellites of the CubeSat format: SPATIUM-I, RSP-00 and the STARS-Me twin satellite. The last of them is essentially two satellites connected by a ten-meter cable, which will unwind after launch from the ISS. After that, the container will move along the cable. With the help of STARS-Me, scientists hope to collect data that can be used in the future to create a full-fledged space elevator.
EXPRESS Racks with interfaces for connecting equipment for scientific experiments
The leaky container houses six lithium-ion batteries for solar panels, replacing the aging nickel-hydrogen batteries. These accumulators allow, during flights in the shadow of the Earth, to use the energy collected by the solar panels during the illuminated time.
During the previous HTV-6 mission, specialists from the Japanese space agency tested an unusual function of the spacecraft - clearing space debris from near-earth orbit. After undocking from the ISS, the spacecraft was supposed to release a 700-meter stainless steel and aluminum halyard, serving as a trap for space debris, but problems were found in the halyard release system. For a week, the engineers tried to eliminate them, but their attempts were unsuccessful, because of which the ship burned up in the atmosphere, not completing one of the main tasks of the mission.