Sunday, June 16, 2013

ATV-4 Albert Einstein Docks to ISS

The European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle "Albert Einstein" has docked to the International Space Station ten days after launching from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

The ATV docked to the station's Zvezda Service Module at 2:07 p.m. GMT while the ISS was flying 258 miles high over The Pacific Ocean. Albert Einstein is the heaviest Automated Transfer Vehicle that has ever visited the orbiting laboratory, and is loaded with 6.6 tonnes of cargo for the astronauts and operating systems aboard the orbiting complex.
ATV-4 Albert Einstein Approaches the ISS
credit: NASASpaceflight

After launch on June 5, ATV performed two rendezvous burns to refine its path to the ISS.
As ATV-4 made its way closer to the ISS, a further series of burns were performed to align the ATV with the docking port located on the Service Module. Astronauts aboard the ISS watched closely as Albert Einstein neared its way towards station, and were on hand to oversee
proceedings as the automated docking occurred.

Over the course of its time docked to Zvezda, ATV will deliver fuel, water and air to ensure the continued operation of the station. Its thruster's will also maintain the station's orbit in order to counteract the orbital decay imposed by the ATV during its time docked to the International Space Station.

Albert Einstein is expected to remain docked to the station for around six months, after which it will go through a destructive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere filled station waste and other used cargo no longer needed.

To see what it is like inside the ATV, watch this video as Expedition 26/27 Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli takes you on a tour of the ATV-2 Johannes Kepler back in 2011.

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