The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) finally launches a new freezer unit to the International Space Station (ISS). No refrigerated goodies though, because the unit is designated to be used for pure scientific research.
The delivery of the unit was part of the unmanned mission that also included the delivery of a resupply module (H-II Transfer Vehicle), which is regularly launched every year or year and a half. The launch vehicle used for the mission was JAXA’s standard H-IIB rocket, and the launch was made last Sunday, August 04, 2013, at the Tanegashima Space Center. It is expected that the module would arrive at the ISS on August 10, 2013
The primary function of the freezer unit is basically to store and properly keep experiment samples. Organic samples in particular, need to be kept in a low temperature environment. This is to inhibit any unwanted chemical or biological reactions and changes that might affect the outcome of an experiment.
Of course, a refrigeration unit is already available on the ISS. However, being that it is for general use, there are usual scheduling conflicts with experiments that require the unit, and test samples that could be properly stored are significantly limited. With the availability of a new freezer unit that JAXA can directly use, it is expected that more experiments can be made, and the scope of the experiments themselves could be widened to a considerable degree.
The development and design of the unit was a collaborative effort between JAXA and the Japanese electronics company Twinbird Corporation. Upon its arrival at the ISS, it would be installed at the Japanese Kibo module.
Source: Asahi News (JP)