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Airbus Defence and Space equipment on board Japanese supply craft

Japanese Space Agency praises Airbus Defence and Space’s contribution to ISS transport vehicle

JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, was so impressed by the quality of Airbus Defence and Space’s work on the HTV cargo supply craft for the International Space Station (ISS) that it has sent the company a formal letter of congratulations.

The HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle), which successfully performed its maiden flight to the ISS last year, is equipped with Power Control Units (PCUs) and Heater Control Electronics (HCEs) developed by Airbus Defence and Space in Friedrichshafen. Three electronics sets have been delivered to the Japanese Space Agency, with three further sets to be delivered by 2012. JAXA’s letter noted that “the PCUs and HCEs, as well as the overall engineering, were of very high quality and functioned perfectly throughout this challenging mission.”

The HTV, like the European ATV designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, is an unmanned freight craft developed to transport supplies to the ISS. Unlike the ATV, however, it does not have an autonomous docking capability, but relies on a ‘berthing’ approach – it flies just close enough to the station to allow it to be captured by the robotic Canadarm2, which pulls it in to a berthing port on the Harmony module, the ISS’ utility hub. The HTV demonstration mission was launched on 10 September 2009, with berthing taking place a week later. At the end of its mission, again like the ATV, the HTV was released from the station and burned up during atmospheric re-entry on 9 November 2009.

The main objective of the PCU is to route electrical power from the solar generator to the HTV and excess power – when required – to the spare battery for intermediate storage in order to operate the solar generator at the maximum power point. The HCE regulates the supply of nominal and redundant heaters in the HTV. Total power supplied by the two units is more than 5 kW.