ATV-4 the 'Automated Tiramisu Vehicle'
1 July 2013
The International Space Station relies on regular deliveries of experiment equipment and spare parts, as well as food, air and water for its permanent crew.
ATV carries 6.6 tonnes of cargo to the ISS 400 km above Earth. It attaches to the ISS and stays there for up to six months, whilst the astronauts unload their supplies and use the extra space for their experiments. After that it detaches and returns to the Earth's atmosphere, where it breaks up and burns, together with up to 6.4 tonnes of waste from the Station.
There have been four ATV missions so far. The most recent ATV is named after scientist Albert Einstein and was launched on 5 June 2013. It has been nicknamed the ‘Automated Tiramisu Vehicle’ because of some of the Italian food that was chosen by Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, including lasagne!
ATV carried a record breaking 2480kg of cargo, over 1400 items now need to be unloaded from the supply ship, including food, spare parts, crew supplies, clothing and scientific experiments. It will spend over four months docked to the ISS, providing extra storage room and a quiet rest area for the astronauts.