Launch pad fire scrubs Japanese ISS launch

Launch pad fire scrubs Japanese ISS launchLaunch pad fire scrubs Japanese ISS launch

PARIS — The launch of a Japanese cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station was postponed Sept. 10 when a fire broke out on a launch platform several hours before the scheduled liftoff. In a brief statement, launch vehicle manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) said the fire broke out on the platform carrying the H-2B rocket about three and a half hours before the 5:33 p.m. Eastern scheduled launch of the HTV-8 cargo spacecraft. The statement didn’t identify the cause of the fire or what damage it caused to the platform or the rocket. Neither MHI nor the Japanese space agency JAXA set a new launch date for the mission. Industry sources said they expect the launch to be delayed by at least several days in order to make any repairs to the launch platform and inspect the rocket itself for any damage incurred by the fire. The HTV is carrying 5.4 metric tons of cargo, 3.5 tons of which in the pressurized part of the spacecraft in the form of experiments and supplies. The remaining 1.9 tons, in an unpressurized platform, includes a new set of batteries for the space station’s power supply, to be installed in a series of spacewalks this fall. A delay in the launch is unlikely to affect ISS operations, although an extended delay would push back the spacewalks for installing the batteries. The launch will be the first this year for the H-2 family of rockets, which includes the H-2A rocket used for ...
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