New HTV-X Resupply Ship to Be More Capable, Affordable

HTV-X cargo ship. (Credit; JAXA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On May 21, a Japanese H-IIB rocket roared off the launch pad with the ninth and final H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) (Kounotori) resupply ship to the International Space Station (ISS).

But, the launch was not the end of the line for Japanese cargo delivery. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is developing an improved variant known as HTV-X to supply the space station and possibly the lunar Gateway.


JAXA Spacecraft to Carry Science, Technology to the Space Station

HTV in flight (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo ship H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is scheduled to lift off Sept. 10 at 5:33 p.m. EDT (6:33 a.m. Japan Standard Time) to the International Space Station from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center, 10 years after JAXA launched its first HTV mission. HTV-8 arrives at the space station on Sept. 14.

Here are details about some of the scientific investigations and facilities heading to the orbiting lab on HTV-8.


Japan Unveils First HTV Cargo Carrier

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has unveiled the first flight model of its H-II Transfer Vehicle, which is set to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in summer 2009, Aviation Week reports.

The 10-meter long, 16.5-metric ton cargo ship will be the heaviest vehicle ever launched by Japan. It will be lofted into orbit by the country’s new Mitsubishi H-IIB rocket. The HTV is capable of supplying the station with about 6 metric tons of equipment and supplies. It will supplement Russia’s Progress and Europe’s ATV freighters.

NASA to Rely on All-Commercial ISS Resupply After 2011

NASA plans to rely upon commercial vehicles to supply the International Space Station after 2011 instead of purchasing additional Progress freighters from Russia, Aviation Week reported on Thursday.

“Administrator Michael Griffin has sent a letter to Capitol Hill specifically excluding Progress from a request to continue using Russian Soyuz capsules to deliver crew to the ISS after the shuttle retires in 2010,” AvWeek reports.

SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation are developing robotic supply spacecraft under NASA’s COTS program. These vehicles are set to fly sometime after 2010. Other ISS supply ships include the European Automated Transfer Vehicle, which flew its inaugural flight last month, and Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle, scheduled to fly next year.