Buon viaggio Edoardo!
At 1:34 a.m. local time (5:34 a.m. CET), an Ariane 5 ES set off to carry the ATV-3 "Edoardo Amaldi" on its journey to the International Space Station (ISS). This lift-off from the European Spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana was the 47th successful Ariane launch in a row, and again demonstrated the reliability of the European heavy-lift launcher. Airbus Defence and Space, Europe's leading space company, is responsible not only for the construction of the launcher, but also for the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) it carried as its payload.
Once the ATV has been released at an altitude of around 260 km, its four solar panels with a wingspan of 22.3 meters are extended, as well as an antenna for communications with the ISS. Relying on the GPS receivers on board ATV, the ATV Control Center (ATV-CC, operated by CNES, (French Space Agency, Toulouse) commands ATV to execute autonomously its final orbit control maneuvers. This operation puts the ATV on a trajectory that allows it to initiate rendezvous with the ISS at about 30 km behind and 5 km below the Station. The rendezvous is performed in steps triggered by the ATV-CC in coordination with ISS, the ATV is then computing and performing maneuvers automatically, relying on relative GPS navigation and optical sensors. The ATV’s suite of sophisticated sensors, software layers and systems ensure its reliability and safety.
This Ariane 5 flight with ATV Edoardo Amaldi is the 47th successful flight in a row.
More about ATV3 Edoardo Amaldi
To go further: Special Dossier in ATV-3