Japanese rocket puts cargo into orbit

A Japanese rocket successfully took an unmanned cargo transporter to the International Space Station into orbit on Saturday, Japan's space agency said.

The H-IIB rocket took off from the Tanegashima space centre in southern Japan on schedule at 2:37 pm (0537 GMT). Around 15 minutes later it put the cargo unit into a planned orbit, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The "Kounotori (stork) 2" space vehicle is carrying five tonnes of supplies, including food, water and experimental tools for astronauts. It is scheduled to reach the space station on Thursday ahead of the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery on February 24.

It was Japan's second cargo transfer mission to the ISS, where Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa is scheduled to stay for six months from late May.

The rocket was originally due to be launched on Thursday but was delayed by bad weather.

 

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