PARIS, March 23 (Itar-Tass) — The ATV-3 Edoardo Amaldi unmanned cargo spacecraft of the European Space Agency (ESA) was launched at 04:34 GMT (08:34 MSK) from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on Friday by the Ariane 5 heavy carrier rocket. The spacecraft will deliver to the International Space Station (ISS) food, fuel and other supplies for the crew of the orbital complex.
Friday’s launch of the ATV-3 spacecraft has been delayed twice due to technical problems. The Edoardo Amaldi spaceship is equipped with high-precision navigation equipment, its mission is carried out in an automatic mode. Its docking with the ISS Russian service module Zvezda is to be carried out on March 28 or 29. The spaceship is to deliver to the orbital complex more than 4.3 tonnes of cargo - supplies of fuel, oxygen and water for the station’s crew, as well as to adjust the station’s orbit. The mass of the spacecraft - 777 tonnes – is the largest payload in the history of Ariane 5 launches. After the mission is complete, the cargo spacecraft will be loaded with waste and automatically undock from the station. During a controlled re-entry, it is to burn completely.
The ATV-3 cargo spacecraft was named in honour of the famous Italian physicist Edoardo Amaldi (1908-1989). This is the third spacecraft of the ATV series, designed by the European Space Agency. Earlier, the first two cargo spacecraft of this type successfully implemented flights to the ISS: the ATV-1 Jules Verne in 2008, and the ATV-2 Johannes Kepler spacecraft - in 2011.
The launches of the European ATV spacecraft are carried out from the Kourou spaceport (French Guiana) by the Ariane 5 heavy lift launch vehicle. By 2014 the ESA plans to launch to the ISS two more ships of this series - the Albert Einstein (2013) and Georges Lema·tre (2014). By the launch of these spacecraft the ESA will fulfil its obligations on the ISS until 2017. After 2014, this program will be reoriented to other purposes.