ATV-4: All good missions must come to an end
28 October 2013
ESA’s supply ferry, ATV Albert Einstein, has served the International Space Station faithfully since it was launched in June. Its mission came to an end this morning when it undocked at 09:55 AM. In five days it will be reentering the Earth’s atmosphere, ready to disintegrate above the Pacific Ocean.
ATV Albert Einstein is the fourth in the series of ESA’s spacecraft that bring supplies to the ISS, reboost its orbit, and free up space on the Station when it undocks with waste materials.
This year the ATV team has planned a special reentry for the spacecraft. After undocking, the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France will instruct Albert Einstein to perform delicate manoeuvres to position itself directly below the International Space Station. Mission controllers will start the reentry procedure on 2 November, when ATV-4 is 120 km below the Station. Astronauts onboard the ISS will be able to observe the spacecraft as it disintegrates above the Pacific Ocean! This procedure will provide valuable data for future reentries.
ATV-4 holds lots of records. To start with, it is the heaviest payload ever launched by an Ariane launcher! . The spacecraft also carried the most cargo by weight as well as the most individual items ever in the ATV series of spacecraft. Finally, it has left the International Space Station packed with the largest amount of waste ever.
Follow ATV’s final moments with updates as they happen on ESA’s ATV blog!