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: Space freighter burns up in suicide dive

Related Stories

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.

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.

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 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.

Recommended for you

Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons

October 18, 2017

Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic ...

Potential human habitat located on the moon

October 18, 2017

A study published in Geophysical Research Letters confirms the existence of a large open lava tube in the Marius Hills region of the moon, which could be used to protect astronauts from hazardous conditions on the surface.

A solar-powered asteroid nursery at the orbit of Mars

October 18, 2017

The planet Mars shares its orbit with a handful of small asteroids, the so-called Trojans. Among them, one finds a unique group, all moving in very similar orbits, suggesting that they originated from the same object. But ...

Scientists dig into the origin of organics on Ceres

October 18, 2017

Since NASA's Dawn spacecraft detected localized organic-rich material on Ceres, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has been digging into the data to explore different scenarios for its origin. After considering the viability ...

0 comments

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.