PARIS, July 30 /ITAR-TASS/. An Ariane-5 space rocket carrying the module of a European cargo spaceraft under the ATV programme blasted off from the space launch centre at Kourou, French Guiana, on Wednesday on a journey to the International Space Station (ISS).
The spacecraft, which completes a series of five automated cargo-carrying vehicles of the European Space Agency (ESA), has been awarded the name of Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian cosmologist, the father of the Big Bang theory explaining the mechanism of the origin of the universe.
Unlike the previous four predecessors, the Georges Lemaitre is carrying a particularly large cargo numbering more than 1,200 items. The total weight of payload is over 20 tonnes.
The Georges Lemaitre cargo spacecraft, after a phase of flight in an autonomous mode, is automatically to dock on August 12 with the ISS which is currently at a distance of 400 km from the Earth's surface. For six months, the airtight compartments of the spacecraft will be part of the ISS, providing additinal premises for the space crew for work and and rest.
The ATV-5 spacecraft flight completes the ATV programme, working for which have been 3,000 people and 30 companies and research institutes, including those from Russia. The ESA has spent about 2.5 billion euro on this project. The cost of one of the spacecraft built under the direction of the Airbus, the main contractor and developer, was 450 million euro.