NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 25: Japan launched an unmanned spacecraft towards the International Space Station early on Wednesday, according to the operator.
The H-2B rocket lifted off at 1.05 a.m. local time with cargo vessel Kounotori8, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said on its website.
The launch took place from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Tanegashima Space Centre in southwestern Japan.
“As planned, the payload separated from the launch vehicle” about 15 minutes later, Mitsubishi Heavy said.
Mitsubishi Heavy said that the fire was likely ignited by static electricity generated when liquid oxygen from the rocket came into contact with heat-resistant material on the launchpad.
The H2-B rocket was not damaged in the incident, the launch pad was repaired and mission managers cleared the booster for launch. There were no apparent problems.
It was the 8th launch of an HTV “Kounotori” cargo ship supplied by JAXA and the first since September 2018.
In a promotional movie on its website Japan’s space agency, JAXA touts the Kounotori8 as “the world’s biggest transport space ship”.
Japan has launched other cargo missions to the ISS over the past decade. (Courtesy: TS)