The ‘Albert Einstein’ space freighter is now making its way to the ISS
The ‘Albert Einstein’ space freighter is now making its way to the International Space Station
On 5 June 2013 a specially adapted Ariane 5 rocket placed the 20.2 tonnes of the ATV-4 ‘Albert Einstein’ into orbit
The ATV ‘Albert Einstein’, designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, is the fourth unmanned European transport spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS). In addition to transporting fuel, gas, general supplies and scientific equipment to the ISS, the ATV will also assist in maintaining the Space Station’s attitude control after docking.
This is the 55th consecutive successful launch of Ariane 5, with a new payload record of 20.2 tonnes
The ATV-4 is the heaviest payload that Ariane has ever carried into orbit.
Orbit injection of the ATV needs a specially adapted version of the Ariane 5 launcher developed and produced by Airbus Defence and Space. This Ariane 5 ES has a reignitable EPS upper stage, a strengthened VEB, and a specifically redeveloped flight programme. This re-ignition capability, required to inject the ATV into an orbit from which it can reach the ISS, was first demonstrated in flight in 2007. The re-ignitable upper stage functioned flawlessly, and positioned the ATV on the target flight path.
But this is just the start of the ATV mission …
It will soon be embarking on the complicated phase when it will rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) and perform a docking manoeuvre. At that point, the ATV will become a fully integrated, inhabited module of the ISS.