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: Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery

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

Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery

4 hours ago

Venus is hiding something beneath its brilliant shroud of clouds: a first order mystery about the planet that researchers may be a little closer to solving because of a new re-analysis of twenty-year-old ...

Hot explosions on the cool sun

10 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The Sun is more spirited than previously thought. Apart from the solar eruptions, huge bursts of particles and radiation from the outer atmosphere of our star, also the cooler layer right below ...

Europe secures new generation of weather satellites

11 hours ago

Contracts were signed today to build three pairs of MetOp Second Generation satellites, ensuring the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to ...

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