TOKYO — A Japanese rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station lifted off from a remote island Saturday on a mission designed to help fill a hole left by the retirement of NASA's space shuttle program.
The unmanned rocket was carrying a payload of nearly six tons of food, water, clothing and experimental equipment to the astronauts in orbit in the space station, an international project involving 15 nations. The rocket also was carrying cargo for NASA.
After docking with the ISS, dropping off its cargo and being loaded up with waste material, the rocket's transfer vehicle, named "Kounotori2," will be detached and burn itself up upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere. Kounotori means white stork.
It is expected to reach the ISS on Jan. 27.
JAXA, Japan's space agency, hopes the project will help it build expertise for similar low-cost ferrying missions.