It was a typical year for Japan with four successful launches and no failures. Japan has averaged 3.8 launches annually over the past decade. Last year also saw a Japanese astronaut become the first foreigner to fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.
SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.
First in a series
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.
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.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A Japanese cargo spacecraft loaded with experiment hardware, supplies and spare parts is scheduled to launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan to the International Space Station at 1:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 20 (2:30 a.m. May 21 in Japan). The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transport Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) carries investigations testing a new livestreaming educational tool, microscope and telescope.
Here are details about some of the scientific investigations and facilities heading to the orbiting lab on HTV-9.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — At 1:33 p.m. EST, Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA concluded their third spacewalk together. During the six hour and 58-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully completed the battery upgrade for one channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Continuous research effort on the high-fidelity numerical simulation to predict various physical phenomenon have been made in research and development directorate.
Efficient development risk identification and mitigation become possible by using numerical simulations rather than the high-cost experiments. In addition, an efficient investigation on the key physics mechanisms are also possible since the detailed physical data distributions are available. Numerical simulations have been applied to wide variety of design problems such as the H3 rocket, the spacecrafts and the aircrafts.
The Ashahi Shimbun reports that Japan has formally signed on to NASA’s lunar Gateway project with specific elements to develop.
Japan’s space agency plans to take charge of development of a habitation module and an unmanned logistics vehicle for the Gateway cislunar space station as part of an international project….
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes to showcase the country’s excellence in technologies with an eye toward having a Japanese astronaut included in the lunar mission.
JAXA plans to work with its European counterpart to develop the habitation module by drawing on technologies it cultivated during the development and operation of the International Space Station’s Kibo experiment module, including one for recycling air and water aboard a spacecraft.
It also plans to take charge of resupplying goods using the HTV-X, a spacecraft under development as a successor to the Kounotori (HTV) unmanned transfer vehicle, seven units of which have been launched successfully.…
The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.
China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Astronauts aboard the International Space Station plan to conduct what may become a record pace of 10 complex spacewalks during the next three months, a cadence that has not been experienced since assembly of the space station was completed in 2011.
Experts will discuss those plans in a briefing at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 1, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Live coverage of the briefing and all spacewalks will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
TOKYO (MHI PR) — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has revised the launch schedule of the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 8 (H-IIB F8) which carries aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI8” (HTV8), the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS) from the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center.
Launch Date: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 at 1:05 am JST (Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 1605 UTC/12:05 pm EDT)*1 Launch Window: Sept. 26 through Oct. 31, 2019
The changes will be made based on the results of the latest orbit based analysis (※ 1) of the International Space Station and Soyuz spacecraft. It was revealed there’s a possibility that the 2nd stage of H-IIB rocket after separation from “KOUNOTORI8” may approach the Soyuz spacecraft.
MHI canceled the launch of the H-IIB F8 on September 11 due to a fire at the movable launch pad exit hole during the countdown operation.
As a result of the investigation, it was confirmed that there was a high possibility that the fire spread due to the static electricity generated by the oxygen dripping from the engine exhaust port during the propellant filling operation, which continued to blow on the heat-resistant material in the exit hole at the movable launch pad.
We have taken corrective measures and have confirmed normal functioning of the rocket and facility.
*1: Collision Avoidance Analysis to prevent collision between the rocket and debris from the rocket and manned space systems (Space Station, etc.) in orbit after launching the rocket. The launch was previously rescheduled for September 24, 2019.
The launch time is subject to change as the ISS orbit is updated.
Launch time and date during this period are pending, determined by the ISS operations and other status.
H-II Transfer Vehicle KOUNOTORI8, the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS), will launch aboard the H-IIB Vehicle No. 8 from JAXA Tanegashima Space Center as follows:
Date: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 Time: 6:33 a.m. JST (2133 GMT /5:33 p.m. EDT Tuesday, September 10) Reserved Launch Period: September 12 through October 31, 2019 Arrival at ISS: Evening of September 14, 2019
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.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA, President: Hiroshi Yamakawa) and Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. (Sony CSL, President and CEO: Hiroaki Kitano) have announced their plans to conduct in-orbit demonstrations of the long-distance laser communication system, which they have jointly developed with the aim of establishing a real-time, mass-data communication system for future inter-satellite communications and communications with ground stations.
SPARKS, Nev., May 31, 2019 (SNC PR) –Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security contractor owned by SNC CEO Fatih Ozmen and Chairwoman and President Eren Ozmen, teamed with the Marubun Corporation of Tokyo, Japan and has been awarded a contract to supply critical hardware for Japan’s HTV-X cargo spacecraft.