HTV-X cargo ship. (Credit; JAXA)
by Douglas MessierManaging Editor
On May 21, a Japanese H-IIB rocket roared off the launch pad with the ninth and final H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) (Kounotori) resupply ship to the International Space Station (ISS).
But, the launch was not the end of the line for Japanese cargo delivery. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is developing an improved variant known as HTV-X to supply the space station and possibly the lunar Gateway.
HTV-X’s lighter weight will allow it to carry heavier cargo. Unlike it’s predecessor, the new cargo ship will have exterior space where unpressurized cargo will be carried, freeing up room inside the pressurized module.
“With regard to pressurized cargo, a shelf structure that allows more efficient use of space has been adopted, so that more pressurized cargo can be mounted than the Kounotori,” JAXA said on its website.
“The HTV-X supports cargo that requires power, such as freezers and small animal breeding cages, that could not be stored with the Kounotori,” JAXA added. “For example, we support scientific experiments on the space station by transporting experimental samples that need to be kept cool during transport, such as the cryogenic courier service we use ...