JAXA Spacecraft Carries Science, Technology to the Space Station


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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo ship H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is scheduled to lift off Sept. 10 at 5:33 p.m. EDT (6:33 a.m. Japan Standard Time) to the International Space Station from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center, 10 years after JAXA launched its first HTV mission. HTV-8 arrives at the space station on September 14. 

Image Caption: The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) developed an uncrewed cargo transfer craft, called the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. This image shows the HTV-7 resupply ship after its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm as the space station orbited above the Pacific Ocean some 311 miles west of Baja California. 

Here are details about some of the scientific investigations and facilities heading to the orbiting lab on HTV-8. 

Preparing for dusty landings 

The new Hourglass investigation examines how different levels of gravity affect the behavior of granular materials such as regolith, dust that covers the surface of planets and planetary-like bodies. A better understanding of the behavior of these granular materials supports design of spacecraft for future landings on the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies.

Scientists are conducting similar research on regolith and granular materials using the space station’s Hermes research facility. Hermes provides long duration exposure to microgravity and the vacuum of space.

Better space-to-ground and space-to-space communication 

The Demonstration of Small Optical Communication System (SOLISS) investigation demonstrates new technology for future broadband data communication in space. SOLISS is an optical system mounted on the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), an external platform providing continuous exposure to space for a variety of experiments. SOLISS technology allows transmission of large amounts of data from the space station, as well as from satellites in geostationary orbit to ground stations.

Predicting flammability in microgravity 

FLARE explores the flammability of materials in microgravity by burning various solid fuels under different conditions inside a flow tunnel. Microgravity significantly affects how combustion occurs, but current tests of the flammability of materials for crewed space missions do not consider the effect of gravity. This investigation demonstrates a new way to predict flammability in microgravity that could fill this gap and significantly improve fire safety aboard spacecraft on future exploration missions. Final components of the FLARE module arrive on the cargo ship.

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