ESA’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Albert Einstein, is ready for launch on an Ariane 5 to the International Space Station on 5 June from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Liftoff is set for 23:52 CEST (21:52 GMT), and one hour and four minutes later the vessel will separate from the launcher to begin ten days of health checks and orbital manoeuvres, bringing it to an automated docking with the Station on 15 June.
ATV Albert Einstein, named after the scientist most famous for developing the theory of relativity, will deliver essential supplies and reboost the Station’s altitude during its planned five-month stay in orbit.
With a launch mass of 20 235 kg, it is the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by Europe, and it is carrying the largest load of dry cargo yet to be ferried by any ATV.
The spacecraft is four vehicles in one, bringing equipment and supplies, replenishing the Station’s propellant tanks, keeping the orbital outpost aloft with its boosts, and providing a module for the astronauts to live in.
“Teams from ESA, CNES, Arianespace and Astrium have worked hard to ensureAlbert Einsteinis ready to go. I’d like to thank everyone for their dedication and professionalism,” says ESA’s Alberto Novelli, ATV-4 Mission Manager.
“We’re looking forward to an excellent launch on Wednesday.”
Delivering cargo for ESA and Station partners
ATV’s cargo includes scientific experiments – including several to be performed by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano – spare parts, propellant, water, gases, food and clothing. In total, over 1400 different items are to be delivered to space.
Many of these items are being delivered on behalf of the Station’s international partners, and include items for NASA and Japan’s space agency.
Luca, working and living on the Station since 29 May, will monitor ATV’s rendezvous and docking and assist with unpacking and storing supplies.