Albert Einstein Resupply Craft Set To Dock With Space Station On Saturday
[WATCH VIDEO: ATV4 Launch Highlights]
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
On Saturday, June 15 the ESA´s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV4), named Albert Einstein, is set to dock autonomously with the International Space Station (ISS). Einstein launched aboard an Ariane-5 rocket on June 5 and is carrying scientific experiments, supplies and fuel for the orbiting station and its crew.
ATV4 will complete a series of phasing maneuvers (thruster burns) on Saturday before docking begins. The maneuvers are designed to raise the vessel from its injection orbit to a point about 24 miles behind and 3 miles below the ISS before rendezvous operations begin.
ESA mission controllers at the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France will guide ATV4 to about 2 miles behind and 400 feet below the station before the cargo craft begins its automated docking sequence.
Albert Einstein will navigate itself using GPS signals until it reaches about 1,000 feet behind the ISS, where laser signals reflected from the aft end of the Zvezda module will guide it the rest of the way. Docking should be completed by about 15:46 CEST on Saturday.
ESA´s ATV4 Mission Manager, Alberto Novelli, said the docking sequence will be carried out with “centimeter accuracy.”
“The vessel´s technology is first rate and the joint ESA/CNES mission control teams at the ATV Control Centre are trained and fully ready to oversee docking. We´re looking forward to an uneventful arrival at Station,” he said.
The six-member crew of Expedition 36 is busy aboard the ISS awaiting for the arrival of Albert Einstein. Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin and Luca Parmitano spent Thursday morning practicing rendezvous procedures and abort scenarios for the ATV4 craft. They will closely monitor the docking procedure on Saturday, and will issue commands directly to ATV in the event of an anomaly, which include instructions to pause, stop and abort docking.
Once the ATV4 is safely docked to the ISS, the hatch will be opened and the vessel´s atmosphere will be cleaned and filtered for a number of hours before the crew enters the craft and unloads the equipment.
Among ATV4´s cargo are two important pieces of equipment: the Fundamental and Applied Studies in Emulsions Stability (FASES) experiment and the Thermal Control System. Each experiment is being implemented for the ISS´s Columbus module. Luca Parmitano will be in control of installations for these experiments.
Saturday´s docking will be webcast on the ESA website beginning at 14:50 CEST.