Astrium built ATV-4 docks perfectly with the ISS

15 June 2013

  • Astrium, as prime contractor for the sophisticated Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) proves for the fourth time its capability to perform automatic rendezvous in space
  • 6,6 metric ton payload of ISS supplies ranging from lasagnes to scientific experiments
  • More room for astronauts: ATV-4 will be an additional part of the space station during its five-month-long mission

After a ten-day flight, Albert Einstein, the fourth unmanned supply vehicle built for the European Space Agency (ESA), has docked perfectly with the International Space Station (ISS) at 13:45 GMT on the 15th of June, achieving a docking accuracy of less than 10 centimeters at a speed of 28.000km/h. Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, is the prime contractor for the development and construction of the cargo spacecraft.

Now that it has docked, the ATV can begin its mission to supply the ISS and correct the space station’s orbit. The ATV will also function as an integral, even inhabited part of the ISS.

ATV-4 Albert Einstein’s mission will last around five months. At the same time as it is gradually unloaded, the ATV will also be loaded with items no longer needed on board the ISS. The supply vehicle’s controlled re-entry will take place over the southern Pacific Ocean. By then Albert Einstein will have travelled some 4 million kilometers in total.

With a total weight of nearly 20.2 tonnes, ATV-4 ‘Albert Einstein’ is the heaviest payload ever placed into orbit by an Ariane launcher. The ATV is also the smartest multipurpose spacecraft ever designed and built in Europe.

In total, 2.6 tonnes of freight were packed into 141 bags, 620 kg of which belong to what is known as the ‘late cargo’, which is loaded just two weeks before the launch. Late cargo refers to items that cannot be stored for an extended period of time, such as perishable goods. With 1,400 individual items, it is the largest assortment of goods ever taken to the ISS. In addition to pyjamas, toothbrushes, t-shirts, socks and essential equipment, astronauts will enjoy peanut butter, waffles, strawberries, lasagne, parmesan, tiramisu and even macadamia nuts as well as months’ supplies of food carried to the space station.

ATV’s propulsion tanks are filled with near 4.8 tonnes of propellant needed to dock to the ISS, as well as to control the ISS orbit and attitude. ATV carries in addition 860 kg of propellant for refuelling the ISS. The ATV will also carry water (565 kg) and oxygen (100 kg) to the station.

About Astrium

Together, pioneering excellence

Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services.


In 2012, Astrium had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.

Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Astrium Satellites, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipments; Astrium Services, the Space services partner for critical missions, providing comprehensive fixed and mobile solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.

Press contacts:

Jeremy Close
Media Relations UK
Astrium United Kingdom
Tel.: +44 1 438 77 3872
Gregory Gavroy
Astrium France
Media Relations France
Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
Ralph Heinrich
Media Relations Germany
Airbus Defence and Space Germany
Tel.: +49 89 60 73 39 71
Fax: +49 89 60 78 53 39
Francisco Lechon
Media Relations Spain
Airbus Defence and Space Spain
Tel.: +34 91 5 86 37 41
Fax: +34 91 5 86 37 82


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