Yesterday, June 5, the European Space Agency launched their ATV-4 Albert Einstein cargo vessel from their spaceport in French Guiana. Liftoff occurred at 5:52 p.m. EDT (2152 GMT), and in addition to over 7 tons of supplies for the ISS a special payload was also included: the DLR-developed STEREX experiment, which has four cameras attached to the Ariane 5ES rocket providing a continuous 3D view of the mission, from liftoff to separation to orbit and, eventually, docking to the Station on June 15.
The dramatic video above is the first-ever of an ATV vehicle going into free-flight orbit — check it out!
“The highlight of the STEREX deployment will be observing the settling of ATV-4 in orbit. STEREX for this event will include three-dimensional video sequences to study the dynamic behavior of the spacecraft during the separation phase. This opens up for the ATV project engineers an entirely new way to monitor the success of their work and also to gain important new experiences for the future.” – DLR blog (translated)
If you look along the horizon at around 5:20, you can make out the plume from the launch.
At 20,190 kg (44, 511 lbs) ATV Albert Einstein is the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by Ariane. Read more here.
(HT to Daniel Scuka at ESA.)