Europe sets June 5 for launch of space freighter

April 11, 2013
This handout image provide by NASA on March 6, 2012 shows a view from the International Space Station. The European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday announced it would launch the fourth, and heaviest, in a series of hi-tech cargo vehicles to the International Space Station (ISS) on June 5.

The European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday announced it would launch the fourth, and heaviest, in a series of hi-tech cargo vehicles to the International Space Station (ISS) on June 5.

Named the , the freighter will deliver 2.5 tonnes of dry cargo, ranging from food and to spare parts and clothing, as well as fuel, water and oxygen.

The total mass of the vehicle, its contents and fuel, will come to 20.235 tonnes, "making this spacecraft the heaviest ever lofted into orbit by an Ariane rocket," ESA said.

The Albert Einstein is scheduled to dock with the ISS on June 15, 10 days after launch, it added.

ESA has a contract to build and deliver five so-called Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) as part of its contribution to the ISS.

The robot craft, each the size of a double-decker bus, are designed to make one-way trips.

They are launched by an heavy rocket from ESA's base in Kourou, French Guiana.

After detaching from the launcher, the ATVs navigate their way to the orbital outpost by starlight and dock automatically.

They provide stores for the ISS crew and additional living space for the duration of their mission.

The ATVs also use on-board engines to boost the ISS, whose altitude drops because it is in low orbit and dragged by lingering atmospheric molecules.

At the end of their trip, filled with garbage and human waste, the craft detach and burn up in a controlled destruction over the South Pacific.

The fifth and last ATV, named after Belgian physicist Georges Lemaitre, the father of the "Big Bang" theory, is due to be launched in 2014.

Explore further: European space freighter is destroyed after mission

Related Stories

European cargo vessel docks with space station

March 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.

Space freighter undocking set for Friday

September 27, 2012

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.

Space freighter starts suicide plunge: ESA

October 2, 2012

A bus-sized craft that had delivered food to the International Space Station will re-enter Earth's atmosphere overnight for a controlled implosion over the South Pacific, the European Space Agency said Tuesday.

Space freighter burns up in suicide dive

October 3, 2012

A giant supply ship burned up over the South Pacific early Wednesday in a self-destruct operation after a six-month mission to the International Space Station, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

Recommended for you

What are white holes?

October 9, 2015

Black holes are created when stars die catastrophically in a supernova. So what in the universe is a white hole?

A mission to a metal world—The Psyche mission

October 9, 2015

In their drive to set exploration goals for the future, NASA's Discovery Program put out the call for proposals for their thirteenth Discovery mission in February 2014. After reviewing the 27 initial proposals, a panel of ...

Image: Pluto's blue sky

October 9, 2015

Pluto's haze layer shows its blue color in this picture taken by the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn's moon ...

How to prepare for Mars? NASA consults Navy sub force

October 5, 2015

As NASA contemplates a manned voyage to Mars and the effects missions deeper into space could have on astronauts, it's tapping research from another outfit with experience sending people to the deep: the U.S. Navy submarine ...


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.