ESA's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, [i]Albert Einstein,[/i] burnt up on Nov. 2 at 12:04 GMT over an uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean. It left the International Space Station a week earlier with 1.6 tons of waste after spending five months attached to the orbital outpost.
Each ATV mission ends with the spacecraft burning up harmlessly in Earth's atmosphere. This time however, the ATV team organized a special departure to gain valuable data on reentries.
After undocking at 09:00 GMT on Oct. 28, [i]Albert Einstein[/i] was instructed by its control center in Toulouse, France to perform delicate maneuvers over the course of five days to position itself directly below the station. Astronauts on the station observed the vessel from above as it disintegrated.
This image from the station was taken when [i]Albert Einstein[/i] was around 100 km directly below and had began its destructive dive. It is the first view of an ATV reentry since the first, of Jules Verne, in 2008.
ATV [i]Albert Einstein[/i] delivered 7 tonnes of supplies, propellant and experiments to the Space Station. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano oversaw the unloading and cataloging of the cargo, comprising over 1400 individual items.
The complete set of pictures is [URL=http://www.flickr.com/photos/esa_events/sets/72157637345106796/]available here[/URL].