european space agency

european space agency

French Guiana: Europe's heaviest spacecraft yet launches for ISS

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1. W/S of rocket launch 2. W/S rocket disappearing into orbit SCRIPT French Guiana: Europe's heaviest spacecraft yet launches for ISS The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched its fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4) - Albert Einstein - on an Ariane 5 rocket on a mission the International Space Station (ISS). The ATV-4 was sent into orbit June 5 at 18:52 local time (23:52 CET) after launching from the Guiana Space Centre near the district of Kourou in French Guiana. With a launch mass of 20,235 kilograms, the ATV-4 is the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by the ESA, and is carrying the largest load of dry cargo yet to be ferried by any Automated Transfer Vehicle. The spacecraft is four vehicles in one, bringing equipment and supplies, replenishing the space station's propellant tanks, keeping the orbital outpost aloft with its boosts and providing a module for astronauts to live in. Its cargo also includes scientific experiments, spare parts, propellant, water, gases, food and clothing. In total, over 1,400 different items are to be delivered to the ISS. The ATV-4 will separate from its launcher one hour and four minutes after take off, beginning ten days of orbital maneuvres before an automated docking with the ISS set for June 15. It is due to return to earth from its maiden voyage on October 15. Launched in 1998, the International Space Station is the largest human-made object in orbit, capable of housing a crew of up to six for extended periods of time. It is a joint project among five participating space agencies: Roscosmos, NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. The Guiana Space Centre, in use since 1968, is commonly used by the ESA to send supplies to the ISS. Its near-equatorial location provides an advantage for launches because the speed of the earth's rotation is faster at the equator than at higher latitudes, allowing spacecraft to take off with a greater velocity.