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HandWiki. Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 20 May 2024).
HandWiki. Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed May 20, 2024.
HandWiki. "Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment" Encyclopedia, (accessed May 20, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, October 27). Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment." Encyclopedia. Web. 27 October, 2022.
Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment

Kounotori 6 (こうのとり6号機), also known as HTV-6, is the sixth flight of the H-II Transfer Vehicle, an uncrewed cargo spacecraft launched to resupply the International Space Station. It was launched at 13:26:47 UTC on 9 December 2016 aboard H-IIB launch vehicle from Tanegashima Space Center.

こうのとり6号機 htv-6 launch vehicle

1. Spacecraft

Major changes from previous Kounotori include:[1][2]

  • Built-in payloads to demonstrate new technologies: SFINKS and KITE, described below.
  • Reduction of primary batteries to 6 from the previous 7.
  • Reduction of solar cell panels to 48 from previous 49.
  • Omission of some of navigation/position lights which were Earth-side when approaching to ISS.
  • Strengthened EP (Exposed Pallet) maximum payload to 1900 kg from the previous 1600 kg to carry Lithium-ion batteries.

SFINKS (Solar Cell Film Array Sheet for Next Generation on Kounotori Six) will test thin film solar cells in space.[3]

1.1. Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment

KITE (Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment) was an experimental electrodynamic tether (EDT).[4][5] The tether was equipped with a 20 kg end-mass, and would have been 700 m long when deployed.[4][6][7] A maximum current of 10 mA was planned to run through the tether.[4] Kounotori's ISS rendezvous sensor would have been utilized to measure how the end-mass moves during the test.[4] The EDT experiment was scheduled following Kounotori 6's departure from the ISS, with a planned duration of one week.[4] After the experiment, the tether would have been separated before the spacecraft proceeds with the de-orbit maneuvers. The main objective of this experiment were the orbital demonstration of both extending an uncoated bare-tether, and driving electric currents through the EDT.[5] These two technologies will contribute to gaining capabilities to remove space debris.[5][8][9][10]

2. Cargo

Kounotori 6 carries about 5900 kg of cargo (including the support structure weight), consisting of 3900 kg in PLC (Pressurized Logistics Carrier) and 1900 kg in ULC (Unpressurized Logistics Carrier).[11]

Cargo in the pressurized compartment includes 30 bags filled with potable water (600 liters),[12][13] food, crew commodities, CDRA Bed (Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly), TPF (Two-Phase Flow) experiment unit, PS-TEPC (Position-Sensitive Tissue Equivalent Proportional Chamber) radiation measurement instrument, ExHAM (Exposed Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism), HDTV-EF2 high-definition and 4K camera, new J-SSOD (JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer), and CubeSats (AOBA-Velox III, TuPOD which comprises two TubeSats (Tancredo-1 and OSNSAT), EGG, ITF-2, STARS-C, FREEDOM, WASEDA-SAT3).[11][14][15] Cargo by NanoRacks includes TechEdSat-5,[16] CubeRider,[17] RTcMISS,[18] NREP-P DM7,[19][20] four Lemur-2.[21] Additionally, the Blue SPHERES satellite of the MIT Space Systems Laboratory is being returned to the ISS for continued autonomous systems research.[22]

Cargo in the unpressurized compartment consists of six lithium-ion batteries and their associated adapter plates to replace existing nickel-hydrogen batteries of the International Space Station. Since each of the new lithium-ion battery has a capability equivalent to two of the current nickel-hydrogen batteries, the six new batteries will replace twelve old batteries, out of the 48 existing batteries of the ISS.[12]

On departure from the ISS, Kounotori 6 carries 9 out of the 12 replaced old batteries which will be disposed of by destructive reentry into Earth's atmosphere. The 3 remaining old batteries stay on the ISS.[13]

3. Operation

3.1. Launch

On 26 July 2016, the launch was scheduled for 30 September 2016,[23] but on 10 August 2016, postponement was announced due to the leak from piping.[24]

The H-IIB launch vehicle carrying Kounotori 6 lifted off at 13:26:47 UTC on 9 December 2016, and 15 minutes 11 seconds later, Kounotori 6 was released into initial 200 × 300 km orbit.[25][26]

SFINKS experiment payload began the data collection at 14:16, on 9 December 2016, but it stopped unexpectedly after 509 seconds.[27]

After a series of orbital manoeuvres, Kounotori 6 arrived to the proximity of ISS and captured by SSRMS (Canadarm2) at 10:39 (10:37 according to NASA), on 13 December 2016.[28][29] Kounotori was bolted to the CBM (Common Berthing Mechanism) of the Harmony nadir port by 13:48 UTC.[30]

3.2. Operation While Berthed to ISS

Berthing operation completed at 18:24, on 13 December 2016 UTC,[31] and the hatch opened at 19:44 UTC.[32]

Since 07:44, 14 December 2016, Exposed Pallet (EP) was extracted from Unpressurised Logistics Carrier (ULC) of Kounotori 6 by SSRMS and transferred to Payload and ORU Accommodation (POA).[33][34] After a combination of two Extra-Vehicular Activities and robotic operations, the lithium-ion battery units and adapter plates were installed. The Exposed Pallet carrying old Nickel-hydrogen battery units was returned to Kounotori 6's Unpresurised Logistics Carrier on 23 January 2017.[35]

3.3. Departure from the ISS and re-entry to the Earth Atmosphere

SSRMS grappled and detached Kounotori 6 from the CBM of Harmony nadir port at 10:59, 27 January 2017,[36] and Kounotori 6 was released at 15:45, on 27 January 2017.[37]

Following the undocking after moving to a safe distance from ISS, the Kounotori 6 was to demonstrate the "Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiment" (KITE) using electrodynamic tether to demonstrate space debris removal technology.[38] This experiment was planned for seven days before reentry to the Earth's atmosphere.[36] On 31 January 2017, media reported some problems in extending the tether, bringing to doubt the experiment's success.[39]

A series of deorbit manoeuvres were performed at 08:42, 10:12, and 14:42 UTC, on 5 February 2017.[40][41][42] Kounotori 6 reentered to Earth atmosphere over southern Pacific Ocean around 15:06 UTC, on 5 February 2017.


  1. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}" (in Japanese). JAXA. 1 July 2016.
  2. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}" (in Japanese). JAXA. 1 July 2016.
  3. "研究成果(より詳細な研究内容)" (in Japanese). JAXA Research and Development Directorate. 
  4. "HTV搭載導電性テザー実証実験の検討状況について" (in Japanese). JAXA. 2013-09-04. 
  5. "JAXA、宇宙ゴミ除去技術の確立に向け「こうのとり」利用" (in Japanese). Response staff. 2013-09-09. 
  6. "Japan tests innovative magnetic tether for slowing space junk". BBC News. 9 December 2016. 
  7. "HTV-KITE Experiment – HTV-6 | Spaceflight101". 
  8. "Japan launching 'space junk' collector (Update)". 
  9. "Japan launches 'space junk' collector". The Times of India. 
  10. "Japanese spacecraft will test space junk collector on its way to the ISS – ExtremeTech". ExtremeTech. 14 December 2016. 
  11. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}" (in Japanese). JAXA. 24 November 2016.
  12. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}" (in Japanese). JAXA. June 3, 2016.
  13. 国際宇宙ステーション用バッテリ・飲料水充填装置説明会 (in Japanese). NVS. June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2016.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  14. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}" (in Japanese). JAXA. November 7, 2016.
  15. "TuPOD almost ready for launch". Group of Aerodynamics for the Use of Space Systems. July 27, 2016. 
  16. "NanoRacks". 9 December 2016. 
  17. "NanoRacks". 9 December 2016. 
  18. "NanoRacks". 9 December 2016. 
  19. "NanoRacks". 9 December 2016. 
  20. "NanoRacks-DM (NanoRacks-DM) – 11.23.16". NASA.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  21. "NanoRacks". 10 December 2016. 
  22. "SPHERES Blue Satellite Repair Complete". NASA Ames Research Center. October 6, 2016.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  23. "Launch of the H-II Transfer Vehicle "KOUNOTORI6" (HTV6) aboard the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 6". JAXA. 26 July 2016. 
  24. "Launch Postponement of H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 6 with H-II Transfer Vehicle "KOUNOTORI6" (HTV6) Onboard". JAXA. 10 August 2016. 
  25. "Launch success of the H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 6 (H-IIB F6) with the H-II Transfer Vehicle "KOUNOTORI6" on board". 10 December 2016. 
  26. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". JAXA. October 2016.
  27. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}" (in Japanese). JAXA. 2016.
  28. "SSRMS captures KOUNOTORI6". JAXA. 13 December 2016. 
  29. "ISS Daily Summary Report – 12/13/2016". NASA. 13 December 2016.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  30. "KOUNOTORI6 fastened to Harmony with CBM bolts". JAXA. 14 December 2016. 
  31. "ISS crew concludes Kounotori 6 berthing operations". JAXA. 14 December 2016. 
  32. "Kounotori 6 hatch opening and crew ingress". 14 December 2016. 
  33. "Transfer of the Exposed Pallet (EP) begins". JAXA. 14 December 2016. 
  34. "ISS Daily Summary Report – 12/14/2016". NASA. 14 December 2016.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  35. "ISS Daily Summary Report – 1/23/2017". ISS On-Orbit Status Report. NASA. 23 January 2017.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  36. "KOUNOTORI6 was unberthed from the nadir port of Harmony (Node 2) by the SSRMS". JAXA. 27 January 2017. 
  37. "KOUNOTORI6 Leaves the ISS". JAXA. 28 January 2017. 
  38. "On-orbit demonstration of electrodynamic tether on the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)(Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiments (KITE))". JAXA. 
  39. "Japanese tether experiment hits snag". spaceflightinsider. 31 January 2017. 
  40. "KOUNOTORI6 performed its first de-orbit maneuvers for reentry". JAXA. 5 February 2017. 
  41. "KOUNOTORI6 performed its second de-orbit maneuver for reentry". JAXA. 5 February 2017. 
  42. "KOUNOTORI6 performed its third de-orbit maneuver for reentry". JAXA. 5 February 2017. 
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