by Staff Writers
Paris, France (SPX) Aug 17, 2011
The ATV 'Edoardo Amaldi', designed and built by Astrium, is the third unmanned European freight spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS).
Following the extraordinary success of the ATV-1 'Jules Verne' and ATV-2 'Johannes Kepler' missions, 'Edoardo Amaldi' is on its way by sea to the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The cargo ship has undergone extensive system testing at Astrium's north German Bremen site over the last few months and has now been given the go-ahead for the final stage prior to the its flight to the ISS, scheduled for spring next year.
The ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) is not only the biggest, most complex spacecraft ever developed and built in Europe, but is also the first vehicle in the world designed to execute rendez-vous and operational docking in fully automated mode.
With the retirement of the US Space Shuttle, the ATV is the largest vehicle supplying the ISS.
It ferries propellants, food, water and equipment to the ISS. Once docked, it uses its own engines to correct the station's orbit, compensating for a regular loss of altitude due to drag and contributes to collision and debris avoidance. At the end of its mission it is filled with waste, and burns up as it heads back into the Earth's atmosphere.
This third ATV is named in honour of the renowned Italian physicist Edoardo Amaldi (1908-1989).
Astrium is industrial prime contractor for the ATV under contract to the European Space Agency (ESA).
There's no time to rest for Astrium's integration team, as they are already hard at work on Edoardo Amaldi's successor - ATV-4 'Albert Einstein'!
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