These photos show the stacking of Japan’s eighth H-2B rocket inside an assembly building at the Tanegashima Space Center over the past few weeks, followed by rollout of the 186-foot-tall (56.6-meter) vehicle to its launch pad Tuesday.
The H-2B rocket is set for launch at 2133:29 GMT (5:33:29 p.m. EDT) Tuesday with Japan’s eighth HTV cargo ship for the International Space Station. The mission will deliver several tons of batteries, supplies and experiments to the orbiting research outpost.
Launch preparations at Tanegashima began in July with the lifting of the H-2B’s hydrogen-fueled first stage atop a mobile launch table inside the Vehicle Assembly Building. Teams then hoisted the second stage atop the rocket, and installed four strap-on solid rocket boosters around the base of the core stage.
The first stage is powered by two hydrogen-fueled LE-7A main engines. Each can produce roughly 247,000 pounds of thrust in vacuum conditions, and slightly less at sea level. A single LE-5B upper stage engine will generate around 31,000 pounds of thrust in vacuum conditions.
Each of the four solid rocket boosters, designed SRB-A3s, can produce around 518,000 pounds of vacuum thrust.
At sea level conditions, the four boosters and core stage engines will produce around 2 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.
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