|Mission type||ISS resupply|
|Launch mass||16,500 kg (36,400 lb)|
|Payload mass||6,200 kg (13,700 lb)|
|Dimensions||9.8 m (32 ft) long x 4.4 m (14 ft) diameter|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||22 September 2018|
|Launch site||LA-Y, Tanegashima|
|Berthing at ISS|
|Berthing port||Harmony nadir or Unity nadir|
|RMS capture||Planned: September 2018|
|Berthing date||Planned: September 2018|
Kounotori 7 (こうのとり7号機), also known as HTV-7 is the seventh flight of the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), an unmanned cargo spacecraft launched on 22 September 2018 to resupply the International Space Station.
Major changes from previous Kounotori include:
- Inclusion of HTV Small Re-entry Capsule (HSRC), described below.
- Reduction of primary batteries to five units, down from six of Kounotori 6, seven of Kounotori 2 through Kounotori 5.
- Replacement of Hardware Control Panel (HCP) by Portable Computer System (PCS). HCP was a dedicated control command box which allowed ISS crew to send control commands to Kounotori. For Kounotori 7, this is to be replaced by a portable (laptop) computer.
To enable HSRC retrieval, the destructive re-entry of Kounotori 7 and the splashdown of HSRC is planned to take place in the northwestern Pacific ocean near Minami-Tori-shima (Marcus Island), east of Bonin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands, instead of the southern Pacific ocean used by the previous missions.
This Kounotori flight is planned to test the HTV Small Re-entry Capsule (HSRC), a reentry capsule similar in function to the VBK-Raduga carried onboard Progress flights to the Mir space station. Essentially a miniaturized HTV-R capsule, it will be carried in the pressurized section of the vehicle. After departing from the station, ground control will remotely command Kounotori to release the capsule at an altitude of 300 km (190 mi). The capsule incorporates 3D printed nozzles, and will autonomously perform attitude control to mitigate shock during descent. Splash-landing off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands, the capsule will be retrieved by ship. It will then be airlifted to Ibaraki Airport via Minami-Tori-shima, from where the samples will be delivered to researchers. The capsule can contain a total of 20 kg of material (5 kg if the payload requires refrigeration). Tiger Corporation developed the capsule's double vacuum insulated container by applying technology used in vacuum flasks. Some samples produced in the microgravity environment of the ISS deteriorate easily, thus a quick return to the surface is desired. For this demonstration flight, samples including ISS-manufactured protein crystals are planned to be placed inside.
On 22 October 2015, a high-altitude drop test of the capsule was successfully conducted off the coast of Taiki, Hokkaido. A second test was conducted in 21 September 2016, with conditions and parameters closer to the actual capsule than the previous year's test. The third and fourth drop tests were done in July and November 2017, respectively.
Cargo in the pressurized compartment (PLC) include:
- HTV Small Re-entry Capsule (HSRC), and a specifically designed hatch of the pressurized compartment to mount the HSRC on departure from ISS.
- NASA EXPRESS Rack 9B and 10B
- NASA Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG)
- ESA Life Support Rack (LSR)
- JAXA experiment Loop Heat Pipe Radiator (LHPR)
- CubeSats to be deployed into orbit from ISS: SPATIUM-I, RSP-00, STARS-Me
In the unpressurized compartment (ULC), Kounotori 7 carries lithium-ion batteries for replacing the ISS's existing nickel-hydrogen batteries. The transportation of replacement batteries is a continuation from the previous Kounotori 6, and will continue through to Kounotori 9.
Launch and rendezvous with ISS
Initially Kounotori 7 was scheduled to launch at 22:32 UTC on 10 September 2018, but was postponed due to bad weather forecast at a ground tracking station. It was rescheduled to 13 September, 21:20 UTC, but adverse weather forecast at the launch site pushed one day further to 14 September, 20:59:14 UTC. During the preflight check, a problem was found in the blowoff valve of the launch vehicle second stage oxygen tank, and the launch was scrubbed. After the problem was resolved, the launch was rescheduled to 21 September, ~18:15 UTC. Bad weather forecast pushed it one day to ~2:52 UTC, 22 September 2018.
H-IIB launch vehicle carrying Kounotori 7 launched at 18:52:27 UTC on 22 September 2018.
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