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Forum:ESA - JAXA - China - International
Topic:ESA's ATV-4 "Albert Einstein" cargo mission
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With a launch mass of 20 235 kg, it is the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by Europe, and it is carrying the largest load of dry cargo yet to be ferried by any ATV.

The spacecraft is four vehicles in one, bringing equipment and supplies, replenishing the Station's propellant tanks, keeping the orbital outpost aloft with its boosts, and providing a module for the astronauts to live in.

"Teams from ESA, CNES, Arianespace and Astrium have worked hard to ensure Albert Einstein is ready to go. I'd like to thank everyone for their dedication and professionalism," says ESA's Alberto Novelli, ATV-4 Mission Manager.

"We're looking forward to an excellent launch on Wednesday."

Delivering cargo for ESA and Station partners

ATV's cargo includes scientific experiments — including several to be performed by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano — spare parts, propellant, water, gases, food and clothing. In total, over 1400 different items are to be delivered to space.

Many of these items are being delivered on behalf of the Station's international partners, and include items for NASA and Japan's space agency.

Luca, working and living on the Station since 29 May, will monitor ATV's rendezvous and docking and assist with unpacking and storing supplies.

Boosting Station orbit

Once attached, ATV refuels the Space Station and can also reboost the orbital complex: its thrusters raise the orbit to counteract the atmospheric drag that slowly pulls the Station down.

ATV can even move the Station to avoid collisions with space debris and provide attitude control.

To achieve an automated docking under the very tight safety constraints imposed by human spaceflight rules, ATV carries high-precision navigation systems, advanced flight software and a fully independent and autonomous collision-avoidance system with separate power supplies, control and dedicated thrusters.

Station's largest ferry

About 10 m long and with a diameter of 4.5 m, ATV incorporates a 45 cubic meter pressurized module and a Russian docking system, similar to those used on the Soyuz manned ferries.

With its solar wings deployed, ATV spans 22 m. Almost three times larger than Russia's unmanned Progress, it can also deliver about three times the cargo load.

Before leaving the Station, Albert Einstein will be filled with waste bags and unwanted hardware by the crew. It will then be deorbited over the southern Pacific Ocean to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.

Astrium is the industrial prime contractor, leading a team of more than 30 contractors in 10 European countries. The ATV Control Center is located in Toulouse, France, on the premises of France's CNES space agency.

The last ATV in the series, to be launched next year, will not be the end of the ATV program. Building on the spacecraft's track record and advanced design, ESA will supply ATV-derived hardware for NASA's Orion spacecraft to power humans to the Moon and beyond.

The ATV-derived service module, sitting directly below Orion's crew capsule, will provide propulsion, power and thermal control, as well as supplying water and gas to the astronauts in the habitable module.

This collaboration between ESA and NASA continues the spirit of international cooperation that forms the foundation of the International Space Station. The launch video transmission will be available live on ESA's website. For mission updates, and to see a detailed launch timeline, access ESA's ATV blog.

Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
'Albert Einstein' in space: Europe launches cargo spacecraft named for scientist

The European Space Agency launched its penultimate mission to the International Space Station on Wednesday (June 5), expending great energy to lift a record amount of mass aboard a spacecraft named for the scientist famous for linking the two units with the equation "E=mc^2."

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 (ATV-4), an unmanned cargo freighter, lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 5:52 p.m. EDT (2152 GMT). The second to last of ESA's five planned station resupply spacecraft launched since 2008, ATV-4 was named "Albert Einstein" after the iconic physicist known for the theory of relativity.

Robert PearlmanEuropean Space Agency video release

Robert PearlmanEuropean Space Agency/DLR video release
Stunning! ATV launch and separation seen by on-board camera

During the launch yesterday of ESA's ATV-4, a special passenger was on oboard Ariane 5: The DLR-developed, ESA/Arianespace/CNES-supported Sterex experiment. The system features four cameras that can produce 3D stereo images showing the mission of Ariane — including the dramatic separation of the Ariane rocket boosters, fairing being jettisoned and separation of the ATV and upper stage.

Below is the first-ever video showing the entry of an ATV vessel into free-flight orbit – incredible!

Robert PearlmanEuropean Space Agency release
Europe's largest spaceship reaches its orbital port

ESA's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Albert Einstein, completed a flawless rendezvous with the International Space Station on 15 June when it docked smoothly with orbital outpost at 14:07 GMT (16:07 CEST).

The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is now connected to the Space Station.

"Bravo Europe, bravo ESA, bravo ATV. Thank you Member States, thank you industry, thank you CNES, thank you Russian partner," commented Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA.

"With the fourth ATV now ready to support and supply the Space Station with essential supplies and scientific experiments, ESA again proves itself to be a reliable partner in the international station upon which the future can be developed."

Gentle contact; amazing achievement

The 20-tonne ferry, the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by Europe, flew autonomously and docked with the 420-tonne complex with a precision of a few cm as both circled Earth at 28 000 km/h.

"Such a gentle contact between a spacecraft the size of a double-decker bus and a Station 20 times larger is an amazing achievement, highlighting the impressive level of control achieved by this European space system developed by our industry under ESA's direction," said Thomas Reiter, ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.

"These impressive technological capabilities will live on in the service module of NASA's upcoming Orion crew vehicle."

Autonomous docking at 28 000 km/h

The rendezvous and docking were performed autonomously by ATV's own computers, closely monitored by flight controllers from ESA and France's CNES space agency at the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France, and by Luca Parmitano and his crewmates on the Station.

Like its predecessors, ATV-4 is much more than a simple supply vessel: it is a space tug, a tanker, a freighter and a temporary habitation module.

To compensate for the natural decay in altitude of the Station's orbit caused by atmospheric drag, it is loaded with 2580 kg of propellant to perform regular reboosts. It can even move the entire space complex out of the path of hazardous space debris. ATV also provides attitude control when other spacecraft are approaching the Station.

In its tanks, it carries 860 kg of propellant, 100 kg of oxygen and air, and 570 kg of drinking water, all to be pumped into the Station's tanks.

In its pressurised cargo module, it carries more than 1400 items packed into 141 bags, including 2480 kg of dry cargo such as scientific equipment, spare parts, food and clothes for the astronauts.

During its four months attached to the Station, ATV will provide 45 cubic metres of extra crew quarters. On previous missions, the addition was welcomed by the astronauts as "the quietest place in the Station" and was often the preferred area for working.

At the end of its mission, scheduled for 28 October, ATV-4 will separate from the Station, packed with waste bags. The following day, it will be directed to burn up safely in the atmosphere during reentry over the South Pacific Ocean.

Robert Pearlman
"Albert Einstein" Open for Business

The Expedition 36 crew of the International Space Station focused its attention Tuesday (June 18) on the recently arrived European Space Agency (ESA) cargo freighter.

At 4:40 a.m. EDT (0840 GMT), station commander Pavel Vinogradov and flight engineer Luca Parmitano opened the hatch to the "Albert Einstein" Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 (ATV-4), which docked with the aft end of the Zvezda service module on Saturday. Monday's planned hatch opening was delayed as mission managers discussed a potential contamination issue and ultimately decided to have the crew disinfect 21 cargo bags for possible mold.

After hatch opening and a quick video survey inside the "Albert Einstein" by Parmitano, Vinogradov went to work setting up air ducts to scrub the atmosphere so the crew could safely enter the space freighter later and begin the process of unloading its 7.3 tons of cargo.

SpaceAngelIs it true that after next ATV cargo ship, ESA will discontinue the ATV program?
SkyMan1958Here's a nice six and a half minute long video of ATV-4 from arrival in French Guinea to checking out the interior of it after it's docked at the ISS.

Robert Pearlman
Originally posted by SpaceAngel:
Is it true that after next ATV cargo ship, ESA will discontinue the ATV program?
ATV-5 is planned as the final Automated Transfer Vehicle of the program. The lessons learned from the ATV and its team are transitioning to building the service module for the Orion crew module.
Robert Pearlman
"Albert Einstein" completes mission at station

The European Space Agency's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4), also known as the "Albert Einstein," undocked from the aft port of the International Space Station's Zvezda service module on Monday (Oct. 28) at 3:55 a.m. CDT (0855 GMT).

Expedition 37 flight engineers Luca Parmitano and Oleg Kotov, who together closed the hatches to the ATV-4 on Friday, monitored the automated departure from a control panel inside Zvezda, ready to take control of the process if needed. Meanwhile commander Fyodor Yurchikhin photographed the departing space freighter to capture imagery of its docking assembly and a set of sensors at the forward end of the spacecraft.

At the time of undocking, the station was orbiting about 260 miles above Kazakhstan.

ATV-4, now filled with trash and unneeded items, fired its thrusters to back a safe distance away from the orbiting complex. An engine firing Saturday (Nov. 2) will send it into the Earth's atmosphere for a planned destructive re-entry over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific Ocean.

The "Albert Einstein," named in honor of the famed German-born theoretical physicist and icon of modern science, delivered more than 7 tons of food, fuel and supplies to the orbiting complex when it docked automatically on June 15. During its time at the station, the ATV-4 also provided an additional reboost capability for the complex, as flight controllers periodically commanded its engines to fire to adjust the station's orbit.

Robert PearlmanEuropean Space Agency photo release
ATV-4 burn

ESA's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Albert Einstein, 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, Albert Einstein 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 Albert Einstein 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 Albert Einstein 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 available here.

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