Japanese Transfer Vehicle Launches Supplies, Robot to the Space Station

Scfeenshot from NASA TV of the HTV-4 launch from Japan.

More supplies and a brand new talking robot for International Space Station. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) HTV-4 Transfer Vehicle launched successfully from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, and will rendezvous in six days with the ISS. On board are 3.6 tons of dry cargo, water, experiments and spare parts to the International Space Station. The new robot, a .34 meter (13.4-inch) robot named Kirobo, is designed to be able to have a conversation with its astronaut crewmates and to study how robot-human interactions can help the astronauts in the space environment.

Unlike a Russian Progress vehicle which docks automatically, the HTV-4 will be captured by the Canadarm2 and berthed to the Harmony module. The cargo spacecraft will be commanded to fly within about 40 feet and then hold where Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg will operate the Canadarm2 during the approach and rendezvous of the Kountouri supply vehicle.