MOSCOW, June 15 (RIA Novosti) - The European Space Agency’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4) will dock with the International Space Station on Saturday, ESA said.
The resupply vehicle was launched atop an Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou space center in French Guyana on June 5.
The docking will be conducted in an automated regime, under supervision by mission control teams at the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse. ISS crew members, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, will also closely monitor the maneuver.
“Docking will be conducted with centimeter accuracy while orbiting at 28 000 km/h,” says ESA quoted ATV-4 Mission Manager Alberto Novelli as saying
Prior to the docking, ATV-4 will have to perform a set of thruster burns designed to raise the spacecraft from its injection orbit to a point around 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) behind and 5 kilometers (3 miles) below the ISS at an altitude of about 410 kilometers.
The spacecraft, named after 20th century theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, will begin its automated docking sequence from a point 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) behind and 100 meters (328 feet) below the station. The docking with the Zvezda module of the ISS is scheduled for 17:45 Moscow time (1:45 p.m. GMT).
The resupply spacecraft is to deliver more than 6.5 metric tons of cargo to the station, including fuel, water, oxygen, food and equipment. It will remain docked with the ISS until October 28, when it will be deorbited and sunk in non-navigational areas of the Pacific Ocean.
It will be the penultimate mission for ESA’s ATV spacecraft. The final fifth mission is scheduled for June 2014. The ATV-5 spacecraft will be named after Belgian physicist Georges Lemaitre.
The first ATV, Jules Verne, was launched in 2008, delivering about 4.5 metric tons of food, fuel and equipment to the ISS. ATV-2, named after Johannes Kepler, was launched in February 2011. ATV-3, Edoardo Amaldi, undocked from the ISS in September of 2012 after spending almost half a year at the station.