Japanese H-2B rocket carrying the Kounotori 8 unmanned cargo vessel lifts off from Tanegashima Space Center in Minami Tanega, southern Japan, early Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. The Japanese supply ship rocketed toward the International Space Station, two weeks after a launch pad fire halted the first countdown. (Kyodo News via AP)

Japanese rocket blasts off with batteries for space station

Japanese officials traced the fire to static electricity and oxygen propellant, and corrected the problem.

The 4-ton shipment should arrive at the space station Saturday. Spacewalking astronauts will install the six new lithium-ion batteries later this year, replacing old-style batteries. The cargo ship is named Kounotori, Japanese for white stork.

The Japanese Space Agency is one of several organizations making periodic station deliveries. Russia sends up supplies, as do SpaceX and Northrop Grumman on NASA's behalf.

Russia, meanwhile, plans to launch three astronauts to the space station Wednesday, including the first person from the United Arab Emirates bound for orbit.

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