Europe's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) entrusted to Arianespace for launch on its Ariane 5 workhorse has arrived at the Spaceport in French Guiana, beginning a campaign leading to this large spacecraft's liftoff next year on an International Space Station resupply mission.
The ATV, named after Albert Einstein, arrived aboard a sea-going vessel that docked at Pariacabo Port near the city of Kourou today. The protective shipping containers with major spacecraft components were then unloaded and transferred a short distance by road to the Spaceport - where the ATV will be assembled, tested and integrated with its Ariane 5 for launch in spring 2013.
ATVs serve a vital resupply role for the International Space Station, with a typical mission bringing water, fuel, food and scientific equipment to the crewed orbital facility. The ATV also is used in regularly re-boosting the space station to its operational orbit of approximately 400 km., as well as for carrying out maneuvers to avoid collisions with space debris.
Arianespace orbited the first ATV in March 2008, followed by launches of the two other spacecraft in February 2011 and March 2012.
Follow Arianespace's launch activity at: www.arianespace.com.