[ISS / Japanese Experiment Module (KIBO)] High-altitude drop test results of a simulated small return capsule for the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) KOUNOTORI

High-altitude drop test results of a simulated small return capsule for the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) KOUNOTORI

Last Updated:
January 11, 2018

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is developing a small return capsule that will be released from the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) KOUNOTORI undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) , and then returned to earth, in order to establish the technology needed to collect samples obtained through space experiments on the ISS.

The sample-collecting technology, which will enable the return of samples of space experiment results to earth more frequently once acquired, is expected to further maximize the ISS utilization results.

We will analyze the test data obtained and continue to develop the small return capsule aboard KOUNOTORI.

Overview of the drop test

  • This test marks the fourth one for pre-flight final confirmation to be conducted based on the results of drop tests on October 2015, September 2016, and July 2017.
  • In this test, the test capsule was dropped from a helicopter at an altitude of 1.5 km, off the coast of Taiki-cho, Hokkaido on November 16, 2017. The parachute and other equipment including the buoyancy bag were confirmed to function normally, and technical data was obtained.
  • The test capsule floating on the sea surface after its splashdown was collected by ship.

The capsule hanging by helicopter

Onboard camera view from capsule

Descended capsule


Floating capsule before recovery

Capsule recovery operations

Small capsule drop test team

* All photo credit: JAXA

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