Japan launched a cargo-carrying rocket Sunday loaded with supplies for the crew of the International Space Station, along with a small robot meant as a companion for one of the country's astronauts.
The H-2B rocket blasted off from the southern island of Tanegashima at 04:48 am local time (1948 GMT Saturday), images broadcast by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) showed.
According to JAXA the launch had gone to plan.
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"The HTV4 module has separated from the rocket as scheduled and continues its journey to the ISS," a JAXA spokesperson said during the broadcast streamed over the internet.
"Information on its progress will be given later as and when."
The unmanned rocket carried a cargo transporter filled with drinking water, food, clothing and work supplies for the six permanent ISS crew.
The annual mission, which has previously been completed by countries including the United States and Russia, will also pick up waste from the space center.