At around 8 a.m. EST this morning, Japan successfully launched an unmanned cargo vehicle, bound for the ISS. And man, watching spacecraft take off never gets old.
The shuttle is called Kounotori-5, and it was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center on Japan’s southern tip Wednesday night Japan time. It’s carrying 4.5 tons of cargo, says JAXA, Japan’s space agency: Food, water, and other commodities for the astronauts, plus equipment for experiments, an electron telescope, and gear for the astronauts, like extra SAFER propulsion systems.
Japan’s made other ISS-related headlines recently, as well. Last month, Japanese whisky maker Suntory announced plans to launch booze to the ISS in an experiment that could help scientists better understand the chemical processes behind liquor’s aging process—why it makes the alcohol taste better, and what effect microgravity has on it.
Oh, and another one of Kounotori-5’s jobs? Bringing a giant waste disposal unit filled with “6 metric tons of waste and expired experiment devices” back into the atmosphere. In other words, it’s taking out the trash. Unglamorous job, but someone’s gotta do it.
Correction: The waste burns up with Kounotori in the atmosphere upon reentry, and isn’t actually brought back to Earth. The language has been tweaked to better reflect that.