ESA's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo ferry, Albert Einstein, is ready for launch on an Ariane 5 rocket to the International Space Station on 5 June from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The liftoff at 21:52 GMT (23:52 CEST) will be covered live from Kourou for broadcasters and on the web, and followed at events in Germany and Switzerland.
ATV Albert Einstein continues ESA's commitment to yearly deliveries to the Space Station. The mission follows three previous spacecraft, Jules Verne (launched March 2008), Johannes Kepler (February 2011) and Edoardo Amaldi (March 2012). The next one, ATV George Lemaître, is being prepared for launch next year.
ATV Albert Einstein, named after the scientist most famous for developing the theory of relativity, will deliver essential supplies and propellant as well as reboost the Station's altitude.
At more than 20 tonnes, the highly sophisticated ferry is the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by Europe. The spacecraft is four vehicles in one, bringing equipment and supplies, replenishing the Station's propellant tanks, keeping the Station aloft and providing a module for the astronauts to live in.
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, now working and living on the Station, will monitor the rendezvous and docking on 15 June, and assist with unpacking and storing supplies.
The ship has the largest cargo capability of all the vehicles that visit the orbital outpost: ATV-4 will deliver a total of 6.6 tonnes. Albert Einstein carries more dry cargo than any ATV to date, delivering 2480 kg of scientific equipment, spare parts, food and clothes for the astronauts. It also will also deliver 100 kg of gas, more than 570 litres of drinking water and about 860 kg of propellant - all pumped into the Station's tanks.
As a space tug, Albert Einstein is loaded with 2580 kg of its own propellant. ATV reboosts help to counteract atmospheric drag that causes the Station to lose up to 100 m of altitude each day. It also controls the attitude of the whole Station when other spacecraft are approaching. If necessary, it can even move the orbital complex out of the way of potentially threatening space debris.
Before leaving the Station, ATV-4 will be filled with waste bags and unwanted hardware by the crew. It will then be deorbited over the southern Pacific Ocean to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.
From the time of its separation from Ariane until its descent, the ferry will be commanded from the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France, located on the premises of France's space agency, CNES. From there, operations are coordinated with all other Station ground sites during its mission, including the main Station control centres in Moscow and Houston.
Astrium is the industrial prime contractor, leading a team of more than 30 contractors in 10 European countries.
The last ATV in the series, to be launched next year, will not be the end of the ATV programme. Building on the spacecraft's track record and advanced design, ESA will supply ATV-derived hardware for NASA's Orion spacecraft to power humans to the Moon and beyond. Orion is scheduled for a test flight in 2017.
The ATV-derived service module, sitting directly below Orion's crew capsule, will provide propulsion, power and thermal control, as well as feeding water and gases to the astronauts.
This collaboration between ESA and NASA continues the spirit of international cooperation that forms the foundation of the International Space Station.
More information about ATV can be found at: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/ATV/index.html
ESA, together with the DLR German Space Center and Astrium, will hold a public event in the "Centralstation" in Darmstadt, Germany on 5 June. The event will start at 20:00 CEST, with the first part of the evening marking 10 years of ESA's Mars Express exploration mission to the Red Planet. The second part of the evening, focusing on the launch of ATV, will start at 23:00 CEST.
Media intending to come the event are kindly requested to sign up at http://www.esa.int/ATV-4-Centralstation
For further information, please contact:
Tel: +49 173 7077 387
In Bern, Switzerland an event will be held by the Swiss Space Office (SSO). After a welcome by Willy Benz, Director of Space Research and Planetary Sciences at the University of Berne, speakers include Oliver Botta of the SSO, Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier and ESA's Claudio Sollazzo, ESA Mission Director for Expedition 30. The event will begin at 21:00 CEST.
Auditorium 099, University of Bern
Institute of Exact Sciences "Ex Wi"
Sidlerstr. 5, Bern
For further information, please contact:
Tel: +49 6151 902807
In cooperation with Arianespace, ESA TV provides broadcasters with free live videostream of the launch. Details at: http://esatv.esa.int/Television
Several stories have also been prepared, which explain the ATVs in general and Albert Einstein in particular. More information at: http://esatv.esa.int/Videos_for_Professionals
ESA's Portal will cover the launch live on www.esa.int, providing the videostream and updates of the launch.
The latest high-resolution still images can be found at:
Multi-Media Gallery: http://spaceinimages.esa.int/Images
ESA's Photo Library for Professionals: http://www.esa-photolibrary.com
Media image queries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe's gateway to space. It is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.
ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU and is discussing an Agreement with the one remaining (Bulgaria). Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
ESA is also working actively with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
Learn more at www.esa.int
For further information:
ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99