Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 (ATV-4) automatically docked Saturday at 10:07 a.m. EDT to the aft-end port of the International Space Station (ISS) Zvezda service module.
The ATV-4, nicknamed the “Albert Einstein,” launched June 5 atop an Ariane 5 rocket delivering cargo, experiment hardware and supplies. Also aboard the ATV-4 are propellant, water and oxygen and air.
The ATV-4, which launched from a European Space Agency (ESA) launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana, is ESA’s heaviest spacecraft ever. The 13-ton spacecraft delivered 5,465 pounds of dry cargo, experiment hardware and supplies.
It is also carrying 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.
Zvezda’s docking port was opened four days earlier when a trash-filled ISS Progress 51 resupply craft undocked. As it was backing away, external cameras on the Progress took photographs of the port for ground controllers to inspect for possible damage on sensors that could have prevented Saturday’s ATV-4 docking.
When the Progress 51 launched in April a Kurs antenna failed to deploy after it reached orbit. Controllers were concerned this could have potentially damaged sensors when it docked to the Zvezda port. The Russian cargo craft is now orbiting Earth for engineering tests before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere Tuesday for a fiery disposal over the Pacific Ocean.
The “Albert Einstein” is scheduled to end its mission at the International Space Station in late October. The trash-filled vehicle will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up over the Pacific Ocean. While there, the ATV-4 will provide extra storage space and more habitable volume for the crew.