Two weeks after a launch pad fire forced a delay, a Japanese H-2B rocket lifted off Tuesday with an HTV cargo freighter to deliver upgraded batteries, experiments and provisions to the International Space Station. Liftoff from the Tanegashima Space Center occurred at 1605 GMT (12:05 p.m. EDT) Tuesday.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the prime contractor for Japan’s H-2B rocket, said Friday that engineers concluded a fire on the launch pad during a countdown earlier this month was most likely sparked by static electricity and stimulated by oxygen. The H-2B rocket launch has been rescheduled for Tuesday to start a resupply mission to the International Space Station.
A commercial Dragon cargo capsule is heading back to Earth Tuesday to conclude a 31-day stay at the International Space Station. The SpaceX-owned spacecraft was released from the station’s Canadian-built robotic arm at 10:59 a.m. EDT (1459 GMT), and the Dragon supply ship splashed down in the Pacific Ocean with nearly 3,400 pounds of cargo at 4:21 p.m. EDT (2021 GMT).