European cargo freighter separates from rocket

Jun 06, 2013

Europe's heaviest-ever cargo carrier to the International Space Station successfully separated from its rocket launcher an hour after liftoff on Wednesday to start a 10-day journey to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Albert Einstein was rocketed into space from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on an launcher at 6:52:11 pm local time (21:52:11 GMT).

It separated as planned on reaching an altitude of 260 kilometres (160 miles).

"ATV Albert Einstein has separated from our launcher," Stephane Israel, chief executive of satellite launch firm Arianespace announced at the control centre in Kourou.

The ATV-4 is ferrying a record cargo of 6.6 tonnes to the ISS—food, fuel, water, oxygen, science experiments and special treats for the orbiting crew.

The robot freighter must now deploy its four energy-generating solar panels to start its , guided by starlight, to the space station.

It is set to dock with the ISS on June 15 at an altitude of 400 kilometres (250 miles) above the planet—at a speed of some 28,000 kilometres (18,000 miles) per hour.

At nearly 20.2 tonnes, the fourth and penultimate cargo delivery of the (ESA) to the ISS was the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by an Ariane rocket.

The unmanned vessel is the size of a double-decker bus—10 metres (33 feet) long and 4.5 metres (15 feet) in diameter.

One of its key functions will be to boost the ISS, constantly falling towards Earth due to atmospheric resistance, back into a higher orbit.

It can also push the ISS out of the way of oncoming .

After completing its mission, the ATV-4 will undock from the ISS in October filled with about six tonnes of garbage and human waste, and burn up over the Pacific.

Explore further: Lockheed Martin successfully mates NOAA GOES-R satellite modules

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Europe sets June 5 for launch of space freighter

Apr 11, 2013

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.

Europe set for record-breaking space launch

Jun 03, 2013

Nearly 40 years ago, European countries worried by US and Soviet dominance of space gave the green light to the first Ariane rocket, a wee launcher capable of hoisting a satellite payload of just 1.8 tonnes—the ...

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.

Recommended for you

Winter in the southern uplands of Mars

13 hours ago

Over billions of years, the southern uplands of Mars have been pockmarked by numerous impact features, which are often so closely packed that they overlap. One such feature is Hooke crater, shown in this ...

Five facts about NASA's ISS-RapidScat

13 hours ago

NASA's ISS-RapidScat mission will observe ocean wind speed and direction over most of the globe, bringing a new eye on tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons. Here are five fast facts about the mission.

User comments : 0