ATV-3 Edoardo Amaldi Completes Six-Month Mission To International Space Station
October 3, 2012

ATV-3 Edoardo Amaldi Completes Six-Month Mission To International Space Station

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

European Space Agency´s (ESA) ATV-3 cargo vessel completed a successful six-month servicing mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and ended its life after reentering the Earth´s atmosphere and burning up as planned over the southern Pacific Ocean overnight.

The ATV-3 (Automated Transfer Vehicle), named Edoardo Amaldi, launched on March 23, carried into space by an Ariane 5 rocket, and docked with the orbiting lab 5 days later. Like all ATVs developed by the ESA, Amaldi docked autonomously with the ISS under the close surveillance of mission control (jointly run by ESA and CNES) in Toulouse, France.

Currently, ATVs and Russian space vehicles Soyuz and Progress are the only spacecraft able to dock with the ISS autonomously.

Edoardo Amaldi delivered more than 7 tons of propellant, oxygen, air and water, scientific equipment, spare parts, supplies, clothing and food to the station and its crew.

While docked, Amaldi performed nine boosting maneuvers to keep the space station in orbit, counteracting the effects of atmospheric drag. Without these re-boosts, the station would eventually plummet back to Earth. A re-boost on August 22 lasted 40 minutes, raising the ISS to a record-breaking 265 miles above the planet.

Also while docked with the station, Amaldi provided an extra 160 square feet of space for astronauts. Before the ATV-3 departed company with the ISS, crew loaded it with waste material. It terminated dock with the station on September 28 and after a short free flight, it maneuvered to a safe reentry trajectory, burning up harmlessly over the Pacific.

The ATV´s successor, Albert Einstein, is set to deliver the next round of supplies to the ISS, arriving at Europe´s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on September 19. It is scheduled to launch in April 2013.