Space freighter undocking set for Friday

Sep 27, 2012
A picture released by the European Space Agency in 2008 shows the ESA's Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle continuing its relative separation from the International Space Station. The undocking of a supply craft from the ISS will take place Friday after a three-day delay, the ESA said.

The undocking of a supply craft from the International Space Station (ISS) will take place Friday after a three-day delay, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

The robot freighter should have separated from the ISS on Tuesday, the first step towards a suicide plunge over the South Pacific.

But the operation was postponed because the astronauts sent the craft a wrong identification code, which prevented a datalink from being established, it said.

"Departure of ATV-3 from the ISS is now planned for 28 September, around 2015 GMT," ESA said Thursday on its blog for the (ATV).

Named after a 20th-century Italian physicist, the Edoardo Amaldi is the third of five ATVs that ESA is providing as a partner in the ISS project.

The craft, each the size of a London double-decker bus, are designed to make one-way trips to the station, which currently has three people on board.

They haul up tonnes of food, water, air, equipment and other supplies, navigating their way by the position of the stars and docking automatically.

The ATVs then use onboard engines to provide occasional boosts to the ISS, whose altitude drops because it is in low orbit and dragged by lingering atmospheric molecules.

At the end of their trip, laden with rubbish and human waste, the ATVs detach and several days later burn up in a controlled destruction over the ocean.

After fixing the datalink problem, mission managers scheduled a new departure time for the Edoardo Amaldi for late Thursday, the ESA blog said.

But this was scrapped amid worries that the ISS would have to do an emergency manoeuvre to avoid a dangerous piece of —a shard of an Indian rocket.

Later analysis showed the debris would comfortably miss the ISS, so the undocking was postponed for a second time, to Friday.

Explore further: NASA spacecraft nears encounter with dwarf planet Ceres

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

European cargo vessel docks with space station

Mar 29, 2012

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.

European space freighter poised for suicide plunge

Jun 17, 2011

A European freighter will be destroyed by atmospheric burn-up next week after completing its supply mission to mankind's orbital outpost, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Friday.

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.

Recommended for you

Testing to diagnose power event in Mars rover

5 hours ago

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is expected to remain stationary for several days of engineering analysis following an onboard fault-protection action on Feb. 27 that halted a process of transferring sample material ...

ESA experts assess risk from exploded satellite

6 hours ago

After studying the recent explosive break-up of a US satellite, ESA space debris experts have concluded this event does not increase the collision risk to nearby ESA missions in any meaningful way.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
not rated yet Sep 27, 2012
It's sort of freaky how smoothly these ATV missions are going. Good job guys!
El_Nose
not rated yet Sep 27, 2012
when you don;t have to worry about keep humans alive a lot of complications are removed from the equation of getting something into space and manuvering

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.