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The JSA HTV-6 space craft or Japan’s H-IIB rocket launches on time from the Tanegashima Space Center. Credit: NASA TV

With the launch of the JSA cargo craft in the anticipated Tuesday arrival to the International Space Station, the crew prepares the Japanese module while continuing science research.

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The JSA HTV-6 space craft or Japan’s H-IIB rocket launches on time from the Tanegashima Space Center. Credit: NASA TV

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s H-IIB rocket launched at 8:26 a.m. EST (10:26 p.m. Japan time) on Friday, Dec. 9 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. At the time of launch, the space station was flying about 250 miles over the Philippine Sea south of Japan.

A little more than 15 minutes after launch, the HTV-6 cargo spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket and began its four-day rendezvous with the International Space Station.

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the HTV-6 will approach the station from below, and slowly inch its way toward the complex. Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to reach out and grapple the 12-ton spacecraft. Robotic ground controllers will then install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will spend more than five weeks. Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will monitor HTV-6 systems during the rendezvous and grapple.

NASA TV coverage of the Dec. 13 rendezvous and grapple will begin at 4:30 a.m. Capture of the spacecraft is scheduled around 6 a.m. Coverage of the final installation to Harmony will resume at 9:15 a.m.

Earlier, the space craft was fueled and ready for launch:

The HTV-6 cargo craft sits atop Japan’s H-IIB rocket at its launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center. Credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

This image shows the JSA cargo space craft docked with ISS after its launch in 2011:

Japan’s Kounotori HTV-2 resupply space craft is seen March 2011 in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

For more information on previous HTV missions from JAXA to the space station visit:

Written By: Mark Garcia NASA

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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