Europe’s third ATV space ferry soared into orbit early today in a dazzling night launch from Kourou, French Guiana.
The cargo ship, or Automated Transfer Vehicle, Edoardo Amaldi will dock with the International Space Station on March 28. Its Ariane 5 launcher lit up the sky as it lifted its heaviest payload ever at 04.34 UT, with the whole stack weighing 777 tonnes. The launch was the 47th success in a row for powerful workhorse Ariane 5. The Edoardo Amaldi’s cargo is made up of food, water, air and fuel for the ISS. The space craft will dock with the ISS’s Russian Zvezda module and stay for about six months.
The ATV-3 will use its own thrusters to raise the Station’s orbit from time to time to compensate for the effects of atmospheric drag. It will also be able to help the ISS avoid any threatening space junk. The ship is named after Edoardo Amaldi who helped found Europe’s space programme as well as CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Its successful launch follows those of previous ATVs Jules Verne and Johannes Kepler.
You can read my full report about the launch at space website SEN.