Europe’s Fifth And Final Resupply Ship Launches To Station
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) launched Tuesday atop an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, at 7:47 p.m. EDT. The ATV-5 will take a two week trip to the International Space Station docking to the Zvezda service module on Aug. 12 at 9:43 a.m. with 7 tons of science, food, fuel and supplies.
The ATV-5 is named after the 20th century Belgian astronomer, Georges Lemaitre, who first proposed the expansion of the universe and applied Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity to cosmology.
En route to the station, the Georges Lemaitre will pass 3.9 miles beneath the space station Aug. 8 so European flight controllers can test new rendezvous sensors. Engineers may use the new sensors in the design and manufacture of future European spacecraft. After the “fly-under”, the ATV-5 will pass in front, above and behind the station for the final four days of its rendezvous with Zvezda.
The ATV-5 is scheduled to depart the station next January filled with trash and discarded gear. However, the spacecraft will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean at a very shallow trajectory allowing the crew and ground controllers to monitor the reentry.
The reentry technique is an exercise to gather data that may be used to monitor the International Space Station when it eventually deorbits. Cameras inside the ATV-5 from Europe, Japan and the United States, will record the breakup of the ATV-5.
Since the beginning of the year, seven resupply vehicles have visited the International Space Station replenishing its crews.