H-2B F3 blasts off from Japan. Credit: JAXA.
Japan sent an H-2B rocket into space this morning, lifting the Kounotori-3 cargo space craft into orbit. The cargo vessel is the HTV-3, robotically controlled cargo spacecraft designed by Japan to transfer needed supplies and equipment to the International Space Station. The launch took place at the Tanegashima Space Center located on Tanegashima Island just south of the mainland of Japan.
The weather at the center was a bit for the worse, with rain and a slight wind. The flight seems to have gone well, and the Kounotori-3 is expected to reach the ISS on July 27th. Currently, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide (just arrived on Soyuz TMA-05M) is performing duties as a Flight Engineer on board the ISS. The HTV-3 cargo craft is carrying over 4 tons of equipment including several small satellites which will be launched into orbit from the ISS.
Astronaut Hoshide first flew into space on board Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-124 in 2008. On that mission, he used the station's robotic arm to move the Japanese station module JEM-PM and attach it to the station. During his 13 days at the station he worked with other astronauts to outfit the module and prepare it for science work at the ISS., Currently, he is part of the second "shift" of the Expedition 32 astronauts living and working on the station.