Facilitating in replenishing essential supplies at the International Space station (ISS), Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), on Wednesday, launched its cargo vessel Kounotori8 to the ISS from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center, according to the company's press release. The Kounotori8 is claimed to be the 'the world's biggest transport space ship' by Japan's space agency JAXA. The cargo vessel was launched using an H-IIB rocket at 1:05 AM (local time) from the Tanegashima island in Japan, according to a press release. It stated that the launch was previously scheduled on September 10.
The launch was completed successfully and as planned, the payload separated from the launch vehicle, about 15 minutes later, stated MHI. The unpiloted cargo ship carried more than 4 tons of supplies, batteries, and a prototype laser-communications system, according to reports. MHI is reportedly the prime contractor for the Japanese H-IIB rocket. The launch was successful in its first liftoff attempt itself - a month after its delay due to a fire in the launchpad.
According to international reports, the earlier launch on September 11 was cancelled after a fire broke out on the launch platform a few hours before launch. Reports quote MHI saying that the fire had likely occurred due to static electricity generated when liquid oxygen from the rocket came into contact with heat-resistant material on the launchpad. MHI had reportedly stated that the material has now been covered with aluminum sheets to prevent a recurrence. MHI added that on the scheduled launch day, there were unusually low winds at Tanegashima, which complicated the launch.
Following the scrapping of the cargo vessel's launch on September 10, NASA had issued a statement reassuring that the space station crew remained well-supplied inspite of the delay. While NASA stated its confidence, the successful launch of the cargo vessel does spell relief to the ISS. Three additional astronauts - Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Hazza Al Mansouri of the United Arab Emirates are set soon join the ISS crew. The replenished stock and batteries will aid the expanded crew soon.