For the second time this month, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency postponed a launch to deliver an important cargo to the International Space Station.
The space agency announced the news an hour before liftoff early morning Saturday, Sept. 15, local time at the Tanegashima Space Center. No new launch date has been provided as of this writing.
The HTV-7, an H-II Transfer Vehicle, was supposed to send critical supplies to the six astronauts who are currently working and living onboard the orbiting space observatory. The important cargo is carrying batteries, water, spare parts, and different scientific supplies for experiments that are currently being conducted on the ISS.
The batteries, in particular, is meant to be installed on the exterior of the outpost to be used for an upcoming spacewalk. NASA said that the spacewalk will have to be delayed and rescheduled until the cargo reaches the space station and the batteries have been installed.
Otherwise, the delay would not be an immediate problem for the crew aboard the ISS.
This is the second time this month that the launch has been canceled. The cargo was originally supposed to be sent to the ISS on Sept. 11 local time but due to a nearby typhoon, the launch was canceled at the last minute.
However, by Friday night and early Saturday morning, the sky was clear over the launch site. Photos from the JAXA Twitter account showed the rocket already ready to liftoff.
9月14日（金）に機体移動を行った、「こうのとり」7号機を搭載したH-IIBロケット7号機の雄姿をご覧ください！ 大型ロケット組立棟（VAB）の世界一大きな扉から、H-IIBロケット7号機が姿を現し、およそ20分かけて射点に到着しました。 pic.twitter.com/0Hjd5poa9l — JAXAウェブ (@JAXA_jp) September 14, 2018
Serious Equipment Flaw
During a press release, Koki Nimura, a senior chief engineer at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., said that the team encountered "a rather serious issue" involving the ship. The Japan Times reported that the resupply ship had a problem with the valve used to adjust the pressure in the fuel tank.
It would take more than a few days before the ship is ready for lift off.
"Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have canceled launch of the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 7(H-IIB F7) with aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle 'KOUNOTORI7' (HTV7), the cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS)," read the press release. "The cancellation is because additional investigation became necessary of the H-IIB F7 propulsion system."
Once HTV-7 lifts off from Japan, it would take another two and a half days before reaching the orbiting space station. It would be the seventh time that Japan delivered cargo to the ISS.