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  • Europe's ATV-3 Docks with International Space Station
    Posted by Mark Carreau 10:34 PM on Mar 28, 2012

    blog post photo
    ESA's ATV-3 holds 30 meters from the space station, moments before a smooth docking. Photo Credit: NASA TV 

    The European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle-3, the Edoardo Amaldi, docked smoothly with the six-person International Space Station late Wednesday, concluding a five-day transit that began with a lift off from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

    The third in the series of five planned ESA unpiloted cargo capsules arrived at the orbiting science laboratory with just over seven tons of dry cargo including research equipment, propellant, water and compressed oxygen. The research gear spans a range of experiments dealing with human health, radiation measuments, robotics, plant growth, even the making of concrete in the absence of gravity.

    The 35-foot-long freighter docked to the aft end of the station's Russian segment at 6:31 p.m., EST, as the two spacecraft sailed 240 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It will remain there through late August serving as a propulsion source for regular altitude raising maneuvers and debris avoidance needs.  As it is unloaded, the ATV will also serve as a receptacle for trash and equipment discards.

    Through the final phases of the linkup, ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko stood by at an internal control station, prepared to transmit commands to manually interrupt the rendezvous and docking, if necessary. The mission was carried out by ATV Control Center outside of Toulouse, France.

    The ATV-3 departed Kourou atop an Ariane 5 on Mar. 23 at 12:34 a.m., EST.

    Tags: os99, ISS, ESA, NASA, Roscosmos

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