CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Tons of cargo and a trio of crewmembers are set to launch back to back to the International Space Station (ISS) this week a day apart on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 on a pair of critical high profile missions from Japan and Russia – making for a hugely busy week of space action!
First up is the launch of Japan’s H-II Transport Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) cargo craft on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 12:05 p.m. EDT from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on a mission to replenish supplies for the multinational crew aboard International Space Station crew.
The HTV-8 resupply mission from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) was delayed from early this month following an unexpected late in the countdown launch pad fire on Sept. 11 that occurred near an exit hole on the mobile launch platform.
Next up is the launch of Russia’s Soyuz MS-15 crew ship on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 9:57 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with three new crewmates.
Russia has already rolled out the Soyuz rocket and Soyuz MS-15 spaceship early today Monday, Sept 23, from its processing facility in Kazakhstan.
The rocket is now standing vertical at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
NASA TV will broadcast all mission activities for both launches live.
The MS-15 crew comprises two Expedition 61 crewmates, Jessica Meir of NASA and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos. They will lift off aboard the Soyuz with spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.
The Soyuz trio will reach the orbiting lab less than six hours later and dock to the Zvezda service module at 3:45 p.m Sept. 25.
The new trio will join the current six person Expedition 60 crew already on board – making for a rare nine person station crew for a little over one week.
The current multinational Expedition 60 crew comprises NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano, station commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague.
The HTV-8 cargo freighter named Kounotori from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is packed with over four tons of crew supplies, station hardware and new science experiments.
After a five day trip it will arrive at the station Saturday.
This is the 8th HTV resupply ship to launch to the ISS. Among the cargo are six new Lithium-ion batteries that will be swapped out for old nickel-hydrogen batteries as part of the ISS power supply system during astronaut spacewalks in October.
Japan’s H-2B rocket from prime contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries stands stands 186-feet-tall (56.6-meters).
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