Unmanned Cargo Ship Arrived at Space Station

Unmanned cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station on March 28. After

five days chasing down the space station in orbit, the European Space Agency’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-3) arrived at the complex at 6:31 p.m. EDT (2231 GMT). The vehicle is carrying about 7 tons of food, water, clothing, experiments and fuel for the space station in what is the heaviest load ever delivered to the outpost by a robotic spacecraft. The ATV-3 flawlessly docked at a parking spot on the station’s Zvezda service module using a sophisticated laser guidance system, as both vehicles flew 240 miles (386 kilometers) over the South Pacific Ocean. According to Nasa Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko were on hand to monitor the docking operations from inside the Zvezda module.The cylindrical, 13-ton cargo ship is 35 feet (10.7 meters) long and 14.7 feet (4.5 meters) wide and is so large it can fit a double-decker bus inside. The disposable spacecraft will remain attached to the space station for up to six months before the astronauts load it with garbage and deliberately send it to burn up as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. The ATV-3 launched into space on March 23 from Europe’s South America-based spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The spacecraft is named Edoardo Amaldi, after the celebrated Italian physicist who is credited with helping to create the European Space Agency. Europe’s next two planned ATVs, named ATV-4 Albert Einstein and ATV-5 Georges Lemaitre, are currently scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in 2013 and 2014, respectively.