European cargo vessel docks with space station

March 29, 2012
An Ariane-5 rocket blasts off on March 23 from the European space centre at Kourou, French Guiana. The unmanned European craft docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday 2233 GMT, laden with tonnes of fuel, water, oxygen and other supplies, France's CNES space agency said.

An unmanned European craft docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday 2233 GMT, laden with tonnes of fuel, water, oxygen and other supplies, France's CNES space agency said.

The robot freighter hooked up with the station, which is currently staffed by six astronauts, the National Centre for Space Studies () said.

The Edoardo Amaldi, a 20-tonne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) gently hooked up to the ISS after inching its way through the last 250 metres (yards).

It was completing its journey after its launch Friday morning by an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou in .

It is the third of five ATVs that the (ESA) is contracted to provide for the ISS.

European engineers say it is the most sophisticated unmanned ship in the history of orbital , being able to navigate by starlight and then dock automatically, using laser guidance and video telemetry.

The size of a London double-decker bus, the Edoardo Amaldi was launched on March 23 by a heavyweight .

It carries a load of 6.6 tonnes, the biggest of Europe's replenishment missions so far.

Cargo includes four tonnes of onboard fuel, which will be used to boost the ISS to higher orbits, as well as oxygen, water, food, clothing, toiletries, medical supplies, spare parts and experiments.

One of the most important items is a fluid control pump that helps recycle urine into drinking water.

The ISS crew currently has only one of these devices, and if it breaks down, the astronauts will have to draw on their reserves of drinking water, ESA said.

The Edoardo Amaldi will be moored for nearly six months to the Russian module Zvezda.

It will provide extra room for the crew and occasional boosts to the station, using its onboard engines to rectify the ISS's orbital decay.

The station orbits at a height of around 400 kms (250 miles) but is tugged earthwards by gravity and lingering molecules of atmosphere.

Filled with rubbish from the station, the craft will then detach and burn up in a controlled destruction over the southern Pacific.

Explore further: Europe honours Einstein with space freighter

Related Stories

Europe honours Einstein with space freighter

May 26, 2011

The fourth of Europe's robot freighters, due to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2013, has been named after Albert Einstein, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Thursday.

ATV Edoardo Amaldi set for liftoff

March 22, 2012

ESA’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle, Edoardo Amaldi, is ready for launch to the International Space Station. ESA’s formal Launch Readiness Review on Monday revealed no problems with the vessel. Launch is set ...

Recommended for you

Rosetta captures comet outburst

August 25, 2016

In unprecedented observations made earlier this year, Rosetta unexpectedly captured a dramatic comet outburst that may have been triggered by a landslide.

ALMA finds unexpected trove of gas around larger stars

August 25, 2016

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) surveyed dozens of young stars—some Sun-like and others approximately double that size—and discovered that the larger variety have surprisingly ...

35 years on, Voyager's legacy continues at Saturn

August 25, 2016

Saturn, with its alluring rings and numerous moons, has long fascinated stargazers and scientists. After an initial flyby of Pioneer 11 in 1979, humanity got a second, much closer look at this complex planetary system in ...

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

August 24, 2016

An international team of astronomers including Carnegie's Paul Butler has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.