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  • ESA's Third ATV Lifts Off With Supplies for the International Space Station
    Posted by Mark Carreau 5:06 AM on Mar 23, 2012

    The European Space Agency's third Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Edoardo Amaldi, sped toward a March 28 rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station, hours after a March 23rd lift off atop an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

    The cargo craft carries 14,450 pounds of fuel and other supplies.

    The unpiloted supply ship is to remain berthed to the aft docking port of the station's Russian segment until late August, where its thrusters will take on the reboost role for the nearly one million pound, six person orbiting science laboratory and provide propulsion for orbital debris avoidance maneuvers.

    The ATV-3 lifted off on March 23 at 12:34 a.m. EDT, or 1:34 a.m., at the launch site, following a trouble free countdown.  The station's U. S., Russian and European crew was provided with live imagery of the lift off by NASA's Mission Control Center.

    Originally set for March 9, the launching was re-scheduled so that engineers could open the ATV's dry cargo compartment to re-secure internal cargo bags.

    The March 28 docking is scheduled for 6:32 p.m., EDT, following a series of phasing maneuvers watched over by the French control center in Toulouse. Aboard the station, European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko will be standing by to guide the ATV into its docking port if there is a difficulty with the automated optical guidance system.

    The latest ATV, named for the 20th century Italian research physicist and one of the founders of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, carries nearly seven tons of propellant, some of which will be tranferred to the station's Russian segment. The freighter also carries compressed air and oxygen, research gear and other supplies.

    When it departs the station, the ATV will be filled with trash for a destructive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

    ESA's first ATV's were successfully launched in March 2008 and February 2011.

    Tags: os 99, International Space Station, ESA, NASA, CSA, Roscosmos, JAXA

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