Only a few hours ago, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched an unmanned rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station (ISS). The Kounotori-5 departed from the southern tip of Japan on Wednesday night local time, or just before 8:00 AM Eastern. The successful launch comes as good news to all in the space exploration community, as the last few months have seen a number of resupply missions end in failure, including SpaceX’s launch of a Falcon 9 rocket in June.
Assuming the rest of JAXA’s mission goes according to plan, the rocket will reach the ISS on Monday, August 24th, at 6:55 AM ET. The H-II Transport Vehicle is carrying 4.5 tons of cargo, including food, water, and equipment and other gear for the ISS crew members. You can watch a brief clip of the footage from the live broadcast of the launch below.
A few weeks ago Japanese whiskey distillery Suntory announced that today’s rocket would include alcohol for an experiment on studying how it ages aboard the ISS. Other unique cargo includes a student-built satellite from a European Space Agency’s education program. Called the AAUSAT5, it will be sent into orbit from the ISS, where it will track ocean-going ships.
Interestingly enough, the JAXA rocket also has a return mission after arriving at the ISS. It will be loaded with “6 metric tons of waste and expired experiment devices,” and sent back to Earth. If the 3-minute recap video above didn’t contain enough rocket launching excitement, here’s the full 15-minute breakdown from NASA.