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: China to send orbiter to moon and back

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

China to send orbiter to moon and back

2 hours ago

China will launch its latest lunar orbiter in the coming days, state media said Wednesday, in its first attempt to send a spacecraft around the moon and back to Earth.

NASA Webb's heart survives deep freeze test

12 hours ago

After 116 days of being subjected to extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and its sensitive instruments, ...

Cosmic rays threaten future deep-space astronaut missions

16 hours ago

Crewed missions to Mars remain an essential goal for NASA, but scientists are only now beginning to understand and characterize the radiation hazards that could make such ventures risky, concludes a new paper ...

MAVEN studies passing comet and its effects

19 hours ago

NASA's newest orbiter at Mars, MAVEN, took precautions to avoid harm from a dust-spewing comet that flew near Mars today and is studying the flyby's effects on the Red Planet's atmosphere.

How to safely enjoy the October 23 partial solar eclipse

19 hours ago

2014 – a year rich in eclipses. The Moon dutifully slid into Earth's shadow in April and October gifting us with two total lunars. Now it's the Sun's turn. This Thursday October 23 skywatchers across much ...

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