ATV-4 ‘Einstein’ Says Goodbye to the Space Station

The current Expedition 37 crew took this picture inside the ATV-4 before undocking as a tribute to Albert Einstein. Credit: ESA/Luca Parmitano.

The Expedition 37 crew onboard the International Space Station closed the hatch and said goodbye to the ATV-4 “Albert Einstein” cargo ship early this morning, Oct. 28. Europe’s 4th Automated Transfer Vehicle undocked at 08:55 UTC (4:55 a.m. EDT). The cargo carrier was filled with trash and it will be deorbited on Nov. 2 for a destructive entry back into the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. ATV-4 has been at the ISS since June 15, delivering more than 7 tons of food, fuel and supplies. Its departure helps prepare for more action at the ISS: the current Soyuz spacecraft docked at the station will be moved to a different location so that a new Soyuz can dock with three new crew members. The Soyuz TMA-11M is scheduled to launch on Nov. 6, 2013 with the Expedition 38/39 crew of Rick Mastracchio, Koichi Wakata, Mikhail Tyurin.

Some images of the undocking, below:

This photo was taken from Japan shorty after the undocking:

ATV-4 backing away from the ISS. Credit: NASA TV.
ATV-4 backing away from the ISS. Credit: NASA TV.
The ATV-4 is just visible as it passes into Earth's terminator. Credit: NASA TV.
The ATV-4 is just visible as it passes into Earth’s terminator. Credit: NASA TV.

Get Ready for the ATV-4 Docking with this Fun Music Video

The view when ATV-3 approached the ISS in 2012. Credit: NASA.

Recall how during a space shuttle mission, the astronauts were awoken each day with music radioed up from Mission Control? Now, ESA has started a tradition of creating a music video to celebrate various events, such as the docking of their Automated Transfer Vehicle. The ATV-4, named Albert Einstein, will dock with the International Space Station on Saturday, June 15 at 13:46 UTC (9:46 a.m. EDT, and here’s a little hip hop to get you in the mood.

ESA teamed up with hip hop group Ugly Duckling for a super space remix of the song “Elevation.”

The connection to the group and this ATV mission was perfect, as the long-time DJ for Ugly Duckling goes under the stage name DJ Young Einstein. ESA liked the group because they are known for their ‘old-school’ hip-hop with an upbeat message and non-violent lyrics.

TATV-4 is ferrying a record cargo of 6.6 tons to the ISS – food, fuel, water, oxygen, science experiments and undisclosed special treats for the six-member crew on the space station.

You can see other music videos from ESA here.

Amazing Astrophoto and Video: Colors of the Sky

A 360° horizon panorama taken from southern Alberta on June 5, 2013, showing the Milky Way, a low aurora to the north, perpetual twilight glow to the north (left of centre) and bands of green airglow across the sky, and the ATV-4 Albert Einstein heading to the International Space Station. Credit and copyright: Alan Dyer.

Yep, you really want to click on this image to see the larger version on Flickr. Wow — what a view!!

This is a 360° horizon pan, seen by Alan Dyer — who has an aptly named website, The Amazing Sky. This is a view seen from southern Alberta on June 5, 2013, and there is a lot going on in this image. Alan described it on Flickr: “There’s the Milky Way arching across the sky on the right, a low aurora to the north, perpetual twilight glow to the north (left of center) and bands of green airglow across the sky. Left of the house and also left of the main area of Milky Way are horizon glows from urban light pollution. A satellite, the ESA Einstein ATV going to the ISS, is at left of frame.”

I get extremely excited if I can see *one* of those things in a night, and here Alan has captured all at once — superb!

But wait, there’s more!

On June 10, Alan was able to take a timelapse of the Northern Lights and some noctilucent clouds, and it is gorgeous. See below:

Alan said on his website, “This was certainly one of the best NLC displays I’d seen and my best shot at capturing them.”

Find out more about this video here, and Alan shared his technical data on the image:
The Panorama was stitched in PTGui software from 8 images taken at 45° spacing with the 8mm lens at f/3.5 on the Canon 5D MkII at ISO 3200. Each is an untracked 1 minute exposure.

© 2013 Alan Dyer

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ESA Launches ‘Albert Einstein’ Cargo Spacecraft to the Space Station

Ariane 5 VA213 carrying ATV Albert Einstein lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 21:52 GMT on June 5, 2013. Credit: ESA

ESA used a little E=mc^2 and launched the Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 (ATV-4) resupply ship, named “Albert Einstein” in honor of the iconic physicist, famous for his handy little equation. Liftoff of the Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana occurred at 5:52 p.m. EDT (2152 GMT) on June 5, 2013. This is second-to-last of ESA’s five planned ISS resupply spacecraft; the first one launched 2008, and all have been named after scientists.

ATV-4 will take a leisurely 10 days to reach the station, with docking scheduled for June 15.

You can watch the launch video below.

The three previous ATVs were named for Jules Verne, Johannes Kepler and Edoardo Amaldi.

The 13-ton ATV-4 will deliver more than 7 tons of supplies to the station when it docks to the aft port of the Russian Zvezda service module a week from Saturday.

The cargo includes 5,465 pounds of dry cargo, experiment hardware and supplies, 1,896 pounds of propellant for transfer to the Zvezda service module, 5,688 pounds of propellant for reboost and debris avoidance maneuver capability, 1,257 pounds of water and 220 pounds of oxygen and air.

Before the ATV-4 arrives at the station, the Russian ISS Progress 51 cargo spacecraft will undock from the Zvezda port at 13:53 UTC (9:53 a.m. EDT), Tuesday, June 11.

ATV-4 Albert Einstein Says ‘Fill ‘er Up!’

Europe's ATV 4 Albert Einstein prepares for its cargo-carrying mission to the International Space Station. Credit: ESA

The next European cargo mission to the International Space Station is preparing for launch, and in this new image, a fuelling operator at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana inspects the ATV-4 Albert Einstein as it is filled with propellant. Launch is currently scheduled for June 5, 2013 on an Ariane 5ES rocket to bring about 7 tons of cargo the ISS, including fuel to give the space station an orbital re-boost.

These Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) bring other supplies such as equipment, experiments, water, air, nitrogen, oxygen and fuel.

As the ISS circles Earth, it slowly loses altitude, and occasionally needs a boost to keep it in the proper orbit. ATVs, Progress resupply ships and the thrusters on the Zvezda service module are used to re-boost the station; Soyuz spacecraft are also used “in a pinch” said Johnson Space Center News Chief Kelly Humphries, but they mainly want to save the Soyuz fuel for the departing crew heading back to Earth.

Watch this video as astronaut Jeff Williams demonstrates the acceleration experienced inside the cabin during a reboost on January 24, 2010 (the acceleration starts about 3:50 in the video):