The Ariane 5 carrying ESA’s ATV Edoardo Amaldi makes a dramatic night time launch as it lifts off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 04:34 GMT, heading towards the International Space Station.
Described by ESA as the “most complex spacecraft ever produced in Europe,” the ATV will deliver essential supplies to the ISS as well as re-boost the Space Station’s orbit during its five months stay.
The ATV, dubbed Edoardo Amaldi, is the third in a series of five supply ships developed in Europe and the first to have been processed and launched within the target rate of one per year. An initial eight-minute burn of Ariane’s upper stage took ATV-3 into a low earth orbit inclined at 51.6 degrees to the equator. Following a 42-minute coast, the upper stage reignited to circularize the orbit at an altitude of 260 km. About 64 minutes into flight, the supply ship separated from the upper stage.
Twenty-five minutes later, ATV-3 deployed its four solar wings and, as I post this blog, is now starting a series of maneuvers to rendezvous with the ISS March 28 at the planned time of 22:34 GMT (00:34 CEST) where it will dock under its own control with Russia’s Zvezda module. To read more details of the mission, click on Mark Carreau’s earlier blog.