Yesterday at 04:34 GMT (05:34 CET, 01:34 local), ESA successively launched their new ATV from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, heading towards the International Space Station. The Automated Transfer Vehicle named Edoardo Amaldi, is the most complex spacecraft ever produced in Europe. It’s mission is to deliver essential supplies, and it will also reboost the orbit of the International Space Station’s while it is attached for about five months.
The 20-tonne payload lifted off with the help of a Ariane 5 launcher, operated by Arianespace. The Ariane 5 have on numerous occasion demonstrated its robustness and reliability, and this time was no exception. It started it’s flight over the Atlantic towards the Azores and Europe, where an initial eight-minute burn of Ariane’s upper stage took ATV-3 into a low orbit inclined at 51.6 degrees to the equator. After coasting for about 42 minutes, the upper stage reignited to circularise the orbit at an altitude of 260 km. About 64 minutes into flight, the supply ship separated from the upper stage, and 25 minutes later ATV-3 started deploying its four solar wings, which when completed marked the end of the launch phase.
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