1404 GMT (10:04 a.m. EDT)
Second-stage capture is complete and the HTV is hard-mated to the International Space Station, beginning about five weeks of logistics transfers between the outpost and visiting freighter.
1217 GMT (8:17 a.m. EDT)
The robot arm, under the control of engineers on the ground, has maneuvered the HTV within about two feet of the nadir berthing port on the space station's Harmony module. The 33-foot-long cargo craft will next been moved against the Harmony common berthing mechanism into the so-called ready-to-latch position.
Then 16 bolts will drive to create a firm connection between the space station and the newly-arrived HTV cargo craft.
1034 GMT (6:24 a.m. EDT)
Capture of the HTV cargo freighter was confirmed at 1028 GMT (6:28 a.m. EDT) as the station was traveling 250 miles over South America.
Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui was at the controls of the 58-foot robotic arm.
"You the man," radioed astronaut Koichi Wakata from space station mission control in Houston. "The stork has successfully delivered the package."
The HTV is nicknamed Kounotori, or white stork in Japanese.
Next comes berthing of the HTV to the nadir, or Earth-facing, port on the space station's Harmony module. That process is expected around 1345 GMT (9:45 a.m. EDT), but could be moved up sooner.
1028 GMT (6:28 a.m. EDT)
CAPTURE. The space station's robot arm has grappled the HTV cargo ship.
1027 GMT (6:27 a.m. EDT)
Kimiya Yui is driving the robot arm toward the HTV right now.
1022 GMT (6:22 a.m. EDT)
Mission Control just gave the space station crew the "go" for capture of the HTV with the lab's robot arm.
1019 GMT (6:19 a.m. EDT)
The space station crew confirms the HTV is at the capture point 33 feet below the outpost's Kibo module. Astronaut Kimiya Yui will soon maneuver the robot arm toward the spacecraft's grapple fixture once ground controllers are satisfied with the lighting conditions after orbital sunrise in a few minutes.
1014 GMT (6:14 a.m. EDT)
The HTV is nearing its final stop at the capture point approximately 10 meters from the space station.
0958 GMT (5:58 a.m. EDT)
Flying in orbital nighttime over the Pacific Ocean, the HTV has commenced its final approach to a capture point 10 meters, or about 30 feet, below the space station. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren is standing by with a control panel to issue an abort or retreat command should the spacecraft drift out of its rendezvous corridor.
0940 GMT (5:40 a.m. EDT)
Mission control just radioed the space station crew that the HTV will depart the 30-meter hold point at 0955 GMT (5:55 a.m. EDT), aiming to place the spaceship in position for capture at orbital sunrise around 1020 GMT (6:20 a.m. EDT).
0935 GMT (5:35 a.m. EDT)
The HTV is now hovering at a hold point just 30 meters, or about 98 feet, below the space station. Ground controllers are looking at moving up the capture of the HTV a few minutes earlier than planned because the rendezvous is moving ahead of schedule.
The craft is scheduled to remain at this hold point for about 20 minutes before pressing into the capture box about 10 meters from the space station.
The station crew will soon participate in a capture briefing to go over procedures for today's HTV arrival.
0927 GMT (5:27 a.m. EDT)
With today's rendezvous proceeding ahead of schedule, the HTV is now about 63 meters (206 feet) from the International Space Station and heading for a hold point 30 meters (98 feet) from the complex.
0926 GMT (5:26 a.m. EDT)
Astronaut Kjell Lindgren aboard the space station reports the HTV is very close to its expected position at this point in the rendezvous.
0850 GMT (4:50 a.m. EDT)
The HTV has reached a hold point 250 meters, or 820 feet, below the space station. The rendezvous plan calls for the spacecraft to stop at this location for about 30 minutes. If everything looks acceptable, ground controllers will give the "go" to continue the approach.
The spacecraft should now be working with navigation data from its laser sensor, which shoots beams of light toward reflectors mounted on the bottom of the station for precise range and closing rate information.
NASA reports the rendezvous thus far has gone smoothly and ahead of schedule.
0401 GMT (12:01 a.m. EDT)
An automated logistics vehicle packed with nearly five tons of supplies is approaching the International Space Station for a laser-guided rendezvous Monday, culminating with grapple of the HTV cargo craft by the station's robotic arm at 1055 GMT (6:55 a.m. EDT).
The H-2 Transfer Vehicle is in the last phase of its five-day pursuit of the space station following launch Wednesday from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.
The 33-foot-long spacecraft completed a brief rocket firing at 0307 GMT (11:07 p.m. EDT) to fine-tune its approach to the space station, and another "height adjustment maneuver" is expected around 0611 GMT (2:11 a.m. EDT).
The HTV will be at an approach initiation point 5 kilometers, or about 3.1 miles, behind the space station at 0657 GMT (2:57 a.m. EDT), then head to a rendezvous insertion point about 500 meters, or 1,640 feet, directly beneath the complex.
The flight plan calls for the HTV to arrive there at 0801 GMT (4:01 a.m. EDT), then continue on to a hold point 250 meters (820 feet) under the space station, where the spaceship will pause its approach at 0822 GMT (4:22 a.m. EDT).
The HTV will conduct a "yaw around" maneuver to position the ship for potential contingency abort maneuvers, then resume its approach to the station after about an hour of stationkeeping.
Another hold point is built into the rendezvous plan at 30 meters (98 feet) at 0955 GMT (5:55 a.m. EDT).
The HTV's slow, laser-guided rendezvous will continue on to a final pause point about 9 meters, or 30 feet, directly below the space station's Kibo laboratory module.
Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui will take control of the lab's Canadian-built robotic arm to capture the free-floating cargo ship at 1055 GMT (6:55 a.m. EDT), then the robot arm will maneuver the HTV to a berthing port on the station's Harmony module a couple of hours later.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2015
A cache of critical cargo stowed inside a solar-powered Japanese resupply freighter is speeding toward a rendezvous with the International Space Station after a successful launch Wednesday.
Read our full story.
1206 GMT (8:06 a.m. EDT)
Spacecraft separation! The H-2 Transfer Vehicle has been deployed from the H-2B rocket's upper stage, setting the stage for the ship's rendezvous and arrival at the International Space Station Monday at 1055 GMT (6:55 a.m. EDT) with grapple by the lab's robotic arm.
1204 GMT (8:04 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 14 minutes, 30 seconds. The second stage engine has shut down as planned as the rocket flies northeast of the island of New Guinea.
Spacecraft separation should occur at T+plus 15 minutes, 11 seconds.
1204 GMT (8:04 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 13 minutes, 30 seconds. The second stage's single LE-5B engine will turn off at T+plus 14 minutes, 20 seconds to wrap up the powered phase of today's launch.
The rocket is shooting for an orbit with an apogee of 186 miles, a perigee of 124 miles, and an inclination of about 51.6 degrees.
1202 GMT (8:02 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 12 minutes. The rocket is flying over the far western Pacific Ocean and now out of range of a ground station at the Tanegashima Space Center. A downrange station in Guam is now tracking the rocket.
The current altitude is 289 kilometers.
1159 GMT (7:59 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 9 minutes. The second stage continues firing. This is a planned 8-minute, 19-second burn to inject the HTV into orbit.
The rocket is currently traveling at a velocity of 5.6 kilometers per second.
1157 GMT (7:57 a.m. EDT)
The LE-7A main engines have shut down on time and the spent first stage has separated from the second stage. And the upper stage LE-5B engine has ignited to propel the rocket the rest of the way to orbit.
1154:49 GMT (7:54:49 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes. The H-2B rocket's LE-7A main engines continue firing and everything is reported to be normal aboard the rocket.
1154:40 GMT (7:54:40 a.m. EDT)
JAXA confirms the two-piece payload fairing has been released from the rocket after it has traversed the dense lower layers of the atmosphere.
1153:49 GMT (7:53:49 a.m. EDT)
The first stage is burning well three minutes into flight. Attitude control, flight trajectory and combustion inside the two LE-7A first stage engines are all normal, JAXA reports.
1153:05 GMT (7:53:05 a.m. EDT)
The rocket's four strap-on boosters have burned out and jettisoned in two pairs.
1151:49 GMT (7:51:49 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 1 minute. The H-2B rocket has already broken the sound barrier as it flies southeast from the launch site.
1150:49 GMT (7:50:49 a.m. EDT)
Liftoff of Japan's H-2B rocket with the fifth HTV supply ship bound for the International Space Station.
1149:49 GMT (7:49:49 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 60 seconds and counting. Thousands of gallons of water are now being poured over the launch platform to cushion the structure from intense acoustic vibrations at launch. In the countdown's final minute, the rocket will be armed and the guidance system will start.
The ignition sequence of the two first stage engines begins 5.2 seconds before liftoff.
1149:19 GMT (7:49:19 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 90 seconds. The first and second stage propellant systems have been readied for launch.
1148:49 GMT (7:48:49 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes and counting.
1147:49 GMT (7:47:49 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The H-2B rocket should be transitioning to internal power at this time. Everything remains set for liftoff at 1150:49 GMT.
1146:19 GMT (7:46:19 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes, 30 seconds. Weather conditions at Tanegashima remain favorable for an on-time launch. And a status check of downrange tracking stations indicate they are ready to support.
The automatic countdown sequence has also started.
1144:49 GMT (7:44:49 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 minutes and counting. In the final minutes of the countdown, an automated sequencer will control the final crucial steps before launch.
The automatic sequence will begin at T-minus 4 minutes, 30 seconds and computers will pressurize the H-2B's propellant tanks for flight at T-minus 4 minutes, 20 seconds.
At T-minus 3 minutes, the launcher will transition to internal battery power and remove external power.
Water will be released onto the launch pad deck beginning at T-minus 73 seconds to help suppress sound and acoustics during the ignition and liftoff.
The vehicle's pyrotechnic and ordnance systems will be armed at T-minus 30 seconds and the rocket's guidance system initializes at T-minus 18 seconds. Batteries controlling solid rocket booster ignition are activated at T-minus 15 seconds.
Sparklers underneath the rocket's two main engines ignite at T-minus 11.7 seconds to burn off residual hydrogen that could be an explosive hazard at main engine start.
1142:49 GMT (7:42:49 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 8 minutes and counting. The terminal countdown has started at the Tanegashima Space Center.
At the time of launch, the International Space Station will be flying over the Atlantic Ocean east of Brazil at an altitude of 250 miles.
1137 GMT (7:37 a.m. EDT)
The H-2 Transfer Vehicle weighs about 35,000 pounds at launch. That mass includes maneuvering fuel and nearly 4.8 tons of supplies for the International Space Station. Among the logistics is 1,460 pounds of external equipment comprised of a cosmic ray telescope developed by Japanese scientists.
Inside the HTV's pressurized cabin, workers loaded 8,062 pounds of cargo for JAXA and NASA, including crew provisions, scientific gear, computers and spare parts.
1135 GMT (7:35 a.m. EDT)
Some statistics on today's launch:
- 5th H-2B rocket launch since 2009
- 40th H-2 family launch since 1994
- 3rd launch from Tanegashima in 2015
1132 GMT (7:32 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 18 minutes and counting. Engineers are uploading the latest upper level wind data into the H-2B's flight computer. The rocket will use the information to compute a specific steering profile based on the real launch day weather conditions.
1130 GMT (7:30 a.m. EDT)
The 186-foot-tall H-2B rocket is sitting at Launch Pad No. 2 of the Yoshinobu launch complex situated on rocky outcrop at the southeastern tip of Tanegashima Island. The Yoshinobu launch complex was built for the H-2 rocket program that began operations in 1994 and has since been modified for use by the more powerful and reliable H-2A rocket family.
Launch Pad No. 1 of the Yoshinobu range hosts H-2A rockets and Launch Pad No. 2 is designed for the larger H-2B rocket, which was designed specifically for the H-2 Transfer Vehicle. Both facilities use a "clean pad" concept and with just a mobile umbilical tower attached to the launch platform.
1120 GMT (7:20 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 30 minutes and counting. The International Space Station flight control team in Houston reports they are "go" for launch. The H-2 Transfer Vehicle, the 33-foot-long payload for today's launch, will arrive at the orbiting lab Monday, Aug. 24.
In the last few hours, launch officials completed a series of communications checks between the ground and the H-2B rocket.
The weather at the launch site looks favorable for liftoff.
1050 GMT (6:50 a.m. EDT)
With less than an hour to go until liftoff, launch officials have issued approval to enter the final 60 minutes of the countdown.
The final hour of the countdown will prepare the rocket, the H-2 Transfer Vehicle, and ground systems for flight.
Today's launch is timed for precisely 1150:49 GMT (7:50:49 a.m. EDT; 8:50:49 p.m. JST), when the Earth's rotation will bring Tanegashima into the orbital path of the space station. The rocket must launch at the appointed time because there is no launch window available.
The rocket is now fully fueled to liftoff, but cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant continues to trickle into the vehicle to replace the fluid as it boils off.
1030 GMT (6:30 a.m. EDT)
A steering check of the H-2B rocket's second stage LE-5B engine has been completed. Coming up at 1050 GMT (6:50 a.m. EDT) will be a T-minus 60 minute "go/no go" decision to enter the terminal countdown.
0630 GMT (2:30 a.m. EDT)
The H-2B rocket is fully fueled with cryogenic propellants for launch at 1150 GMT (7:50 a.m. EDT).
The super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen supplying the rocket's two LE-7A first stage engines and LE-5B second stage engine will be gradually replenished through the remainder of the countdown as it boils off.
Final countdown preparations began with the rollout of the 186-foot-tall H-2B rocket from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Tanegashima to Launch Pad No. 2 at the Yoshinobu launch complex. It took about 30 minutes for the rocket to ride the 500 meters, or about 1,600 feet, from the assembly hangar to the oceanfront launch pad atop a mobile launch platform.
Launch officials convened a few hours before rollout to assess weather conditions at Tanegashima, an island off the southern coast of Kyushu. The space center is positioned on the southeastern flank of the picturesque island.
After rollout, workers connected the rocket's mobile launch platform to propellant, communications and electrical systems at the pad.
When fueling began, officials established a 3,000-meter keep-out zone around the Yoshinobu launch complex.
The rocket has also completed tests of its attitude control system since rolling out to the launch pad.
After turning southeast from Tanegashima and climbing into space, the rocket will deploy the 35,000-pound H-2 Transfer Vehicle about 15 minutes after blastoff.
The HTV will arrive at the space station Monday after a five-day trip.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2015
A Japanese HTV cargo craft is being prepped for liftoff Wednesday with a much-needed shipment of provisions for the International Space Station’s six-person crew after a spate of failures strained the orbiting lab’s supply chain with Earth.
Read our full story.
MONDAY, AUGUST 17, 2015
The launch of a Japanese cargo ship with more than 4.5 tons of supplies bound for the International Space Station has been rescheduled for Wednesday due to a poor weather forecast at the mission’s island launch base.
Read our full story.