Kirobo will be launched into space in August on a Japan aerospace exploration agency (JAXA) space rocket and head to the International Space Station (ISS). (Courtesy: RTV/CBS)
A Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-IIB rocket carrying cargo for the International Space Station (ISS) launched off Tanegashima, Southern Japan early on Sunday (August 4), with a special extra passenger.
In the cargo hold of the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), also called "Kounotori," is a small robot meant for the Japanese astronaut on board the space station orbiting between 330 kilometers (205 miles) and 435 kilometers (270 miles) above earth.
The robot will conduct experiments in space by taking verbal orders from JAXA astronaut commander Koichi Wakata, who will join the ISS later this year, and by remote-control from earth.
But the unpiloted cargo craft is also loaded with more than 3.5 tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the six-person station crew.
It will take Kounotori, which means "white stork" in Japanese, six days to reach the ISS.
On Friday, August 9, the cargo ship is expected to reach the station. NASA astronauts will operate the station's robotic arm to reach out and capture the 12-ton spacecraft to install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will spend a month, according to NASA.