Japan launched to the ISS a cargo ship with a prototype of a space elevator


The Japanese space agency launched an HTV-7 cargo vehicle to the International Space Station, which will deliver equipment, materials for experiments and food for the crew to it. In addition, the ship will bring to the ISS satellite STARS-Me, through which the agency’s engineers will test thetechnology, which in the future can be used to build a “space elevator”. The broadcast of the launch took place on the YouTube channel of the agency.

The Japanese space agency supplies its module “Kibo” and the ISS as a whole with the help of cargo spaceships HTV. This type of ship is the most load-lifting among all cargo vehicles, which are used today to deliver cargo to the station – the maximum payload mass of HTV is 6.2 tons. One of the technical drawbacks of the ship is that when it returns to Earth it burns in dense layers of the atmosphere, because of which it can not be used to deliver the results of scientific research conducted on the ISS.

The mission of HTV-7 should be the first, in which this ship will still be able to return cargo to Earth in an undamaged state. To this end, the HTV-7 was equipped with an HSRC (HTV Small Re-entry Capsule) capsule with a sealed container in which the cosmonauts on the ISS can accommodate loads of a total mass of 20 kilograms. After the ship separates from the station and its engines give it enough momentum to leave the orbit, the capsule will separate and fly independently. At the last stage, she will release parachutes and land near the Minamitori island , where he will be picked up by a Japanese ship.

The medium-sized H-IIB carrier rocket with HTV-7 on board started from the Yoshinobu space center of the Tanegashima space center on September 22 at 20:52 Moscow time. After arriving at the ISS, the spacecraft will capture the Canadarm2 robot that will move it to the gateway of the Harmony module adjacent to the Japanese Kibo module.

Loads in HTV-7 are located in two compartments – hermetically sealed and unsealed. The first one houses 4.3 tons of cargo, including scientific equipment racks , a glove box for experiments and a life support system developed by the European Space Agency that will convert water and carbon dioxide to oxygen and methane. Also in the sealed compartment is food and other items for the crew, developed in an experimental radiator of a closed cycle and three nanosatellite CubeSat format: SPATIUM-I, RSP-00 and dual satellite STARS-Me. The last of them is essentially two satellites connected by a ten-meter cable that is unwound after launching from the ISS. After that, the container will move along the cable. With the help of STARS-Me, scientists hope to collect data that in the future can be used to create a full-fledged space elevator.

In the leaky container are six lithium-ion batteries for solar panels, which will replace the aging nickel-hydrogen. These batteries allow you to use the energy collected by solar panels during the illuminated time during the spans in the shadow of the Earth.During the previous mission of HTV-6, the specialists of the Japanese space agency tested the unusual function of the ship – cleaning the near-earth orbit from space debris. After undocking from the ISS, the ship was to produce a 700-meter halyard from stainless steel and aluminum, serving as a trap for debris particles, but problems were found in the release system of the halyard. Within a week, engineers tried to eliminate them, but their attempts were unsuccessful, because of what the ship was burned in the atmosphere, not having fulfilled one of the mission’s main tasks.

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