Albert Einstein ATV

Albert Einstein ATV

Albert Einstein ATV
ATV-4 "Albert Einstein" approaching the Zvezda Service Module on 15 June 2013
Mission type ISS resupply
Operator European Space Agency
COSPAR ID 2013-027A
SATCAT № 39175
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type ATV
Manufacturer EADS Astrium
Thales Alenia Space
Launch mass 20,190 kilograms (44,510 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date 5 June 2013, 21:52:11 (2013-06-05T21:52:11Z) UTC[1][2]
Rocket Ariane 5ES
Launch site Kourou ELA-3
Contractor Arianespace
End of mission
Disposal Deorbited
Decay date 2 November 2013, 12:04 UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Inclination 51.6 degrees
Docking with ISS
Docking port Zvezda Aft
Docking date 15 June 2013, 14:07 UTC
Undocking date 28 October 2013, 08:55 UTC
Time docked 134 days, 18 hour, 48 minutes
Mass 6,590 kilograms (14,530 lb)

The Albert Einstein ATV, or Automated Transfer Vehicle 004 (ATV-004), was a European unmanned cargo resupply spacecraft, named after the German-born physicist Albert Einstein.[3] It was built to supply the International Space Station (ISS) with propellant, water, air, and dry cargo, and also to reboost the station's altitude with its thrusters.[4] It was the fourth and penultimate ATV to be built, following the Edoardo Amaldi, which was launched in March 2012. Albert Einstein's components were constructed in Turin, Italy, and Bremen, Germany, and underwent final assembly and testing in Bremen in 2012.[5][6] The spacecraft left Bremen for Kourou on 31 August 2012 to begin launch preparations.[7]

Albert Einstein was launched on an Ariane 5ES rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana at 21:52:11 GMT on 5 June 2013.[8] The launch was conducted by Arianespace on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA). At the time of its launch, Albert Einstein was the heaviest spacecraft ever launched to orbit by an Ariane rocket, with a total mass of 20,190 kilograms (44,510 lb).[2] The ATV docked successfully with the ISS at 14:07 GMT (16:07 CEST) on 15 June 2013.[9] After a successful five-month mission, Albert Einstein re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and was destroyed, as planned, on 2 November 2013.[10]


  • Mission payload 1
  • Mission summary 2
    • Launch 2.1
    • Cruise 2.2
    • Docking 2.3
    • Reboost and docked operations 2.4
    • End of mission and deorbit 2.5
  • ATV missions 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Mission payload

The Albert Einstein supplied the ISS with dry cargo, fuel, water and air to ensure the continued operation of the station. In addition, the ATV used its own thrusters and fuel supply to reboost the ISS, to counteract the drag the residual atmosphere imposes on the station. The total cost of the Albert Einstein mission was approximately 450 million euros.[11]

At the time of its launch, the Albert Einstein held the record for:[2]

  • Most dry cargo launched in any European spacecraft – 2,480 kilograms (5,470 lb);
  • Most diverse cargo mix aboard a spacecraft – 1,400 different items;
  • Largest quantity of late cargo (cargo added only two weeks before launch, while Albert Einstein was already mated to the top of the Ariane 5 rocket) – 620 kilograms (1,370 lb).

A full cargo breakdown is provided in the following table:

Cargo Mass
control propellant
2,580 kilograms (5,690 lb)
refuel propellant
860 kilograms (1,900 lb)
Water (for Russian Segment) 570 kilograms (1,260 lb)
Gas (1 tank O2, 2 tanks air) 100 kilograms (220 lb)
Dry cargo
(food, clothes, equipment)
2,480 kilograms (5,470 lb)
Total 6,590 kilograms (14,530 lb)
Source: ESA[2]

Mission summary

The launch of ATV-4 on an Ariane 5ES rocket on 5 June 2013.
ATV-4 approaches the ISS on 15 June 2013 to dock with the Zvezda module.


Albert Einstein arrived at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, in September 2012.[7] It was launched successfully on an Ariane 5ES rocket at 21:52:11 GMT (23:52:11 CEST) on 5 June 2013.[8]


After launch, Albert Einstein spent ten days conducting orbital manoeuvres before docking with the ISS. This time frame was chosen for logistical rather than technological reasons – the ATV is capable of docking with the station five days after launch, as demonstrated by the Edoardo Amaldi ATV in 2012, but the launch from Kourou could not occur later, as the launch pad was required for subsequent commercial launches. In addition, docking with the ISS could not occur before 11 June, as the Zvezda port (where the Albert Einstein docked) was occupied by Progress 51. After Progress 51 departed on 11 June, cameras on the ISS checked the Zvezda docking port to ensure that no damage was caused when Progress 51 docked with the station, as it had a stuck navigation antenna which could have potentially damaged the docking port.[12][13][14] No damage to the docking port was detected, and so the ATV's docking proceeded as planned.[15]


The ATV docked successfully with the ISS at 14:07 GMT (16:07 CEST) on 15 June 2013[9] and the hatch was opened on 18 June.[16] The hatch opening was delayed by a day due to concerns raised by Roscosmos that the cargo had not been disinfected satisfactorily.[17]

Reboost and docked operations

On 19 June 2013, Albert Einstein conducted its first reboost of the ISS, performing a 407-second burn which provided a delta-v change of 1.0 m/s to the station.[4] A further reboost was undertaken on 10 July 2013, where a burn of just less than 10 minutes provided a delta-v change of 1.45 m/s; this operation consumed 199 kilograms (439 lb) of propellant.[18] By 12 July 2013, all the dry cargo had been unloaded from Albert Einstein, allowing the ATV to be filled with waste for removal from the station.[19]

On 23 and 28 July Albert Einstein suffered a transient fault with two of its three computers, numbers 2 and 3. While only a single computer was required to operate the ATV, two out of the three were required for any "mission critical" operations. However, by 29 July a restart had been performed on both units, bringing all three of the ATV's computers back on-line without impacting the mission schedule.[20] Transfer of fuel and oxidiser from the ATV to the Russian segment of the ISS took place on 1 August 2013 in an operation that took approximately 1.5 hours; this fuel allowed the ISS to adjust its orbit in the absence of docked vessels to perform reboosts. The pipelines were then purged to avoid any complications during Albert Einstein's undocking from the ISS.[21]

End of mission and deorbit

Albert Einstein undocked safely from the ISS at 08:55 GMT (09:55 CET) on 28 October 2013; it then conducted a series of orbital adjustments to allow the ISS astronauts to clearly observe its re-entry.[10] On 2 November, it re-entered Earth's atmosphere and burnt up, along with a payload of ISS waste, over the Pacific Ocean.[10]

ATV missions

Designation Name Launch date ISS docking date Deorbit date Sources
ATV-001 Jules Verne 9 March 2008 3 April 2008 29 September 2008 [22][23]
ATV-002 Johannes Kepler 16 February 2011 24 February 2011 21 June 2011 [24][25]
ATV-003 Edoardo Amaldi 23 March 2012 28 March 2012 4 October 2012 [26][27][28][29]
ATV-004 Albert Einstein 5 June 2013 15 June 2013 2 November 2013 [30][31][32][33]
ATV-005 Georges Lemaître 29 July 2014 12 August 2014 25 January 2015 [34]


  1. ^ "ATV-4 scheduled for summer liftoff". ESA. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Europe's heaviest cargo ship launched to Space Station". ESA. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "ATV-4 to carry name Albert Einstein". ESA. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "ATV conducts first reboost for the International Space Station". ESA. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Europe's second cargo freighter to fly in December". Spaceflight Now. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Arianespace... Feeding Amaldi (Launch)". SatNews. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  7. ^ a b "ATV-4 Albert Einstein en route to Kourou".  
  8. ^ a b "Europe's Heaviest Cargo Ship Launched to Space Station".  
  9. ^ a b "Europe's largest spaceship reaches its orbital port". ESA. 15 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c "A fiery end to a perfect mission: ATV Albert Einstein (2013)". ESA. 2 November 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  11. ^ "Fact Sheet – ATV Albert Einstein" (PDF). ESA. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "European Cargo Ship Launches to Station, Science for Station Crew". NASA. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  13. ^ "'Albert Einstein' in Space: Europe Launches Cargo Spacecraft Named for Scientist". 5 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Resupply Craft Undocks, New Supply Vehicle Due June 15". NASA. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  15. ^ "“Albert Einstein” Delivers Gear to Expedition 36 Crew". NASA. 15 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  16. ^ "First days after the arrival of ATV-4" ESA. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  17. ^ "Fungus Among Us? Mold Concerns Delay Space Station Cargo Ship's Opening" 19 June 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  18. ^ "ATV-4′s first ISS reboost complete". ESA. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  19. ^ "ATV-4 mission report 12 July". ESA. 15 July 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  20. ^ "Successful restart of the ATV computers".  
  21. ^ "Today's fuel transfer to ISS complete".  
  22. ^ "Multi-Program Integrated Milestones" (PDF).  
  23. ^ "European Cargo Ship Begins Maiden Space Voyage".  
  24. ^ "Europe's second cargo freighter to fly in December". Spaceflight Now. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  25. ^ "One-day delay of final shuttle launch makes room for ATV". Spaceflight Now. 1 October 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  26. ^ "Third ATV named after Edoardo Amaldi". ESA. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  27. ^ "Europe's third cargo vehicle docks with the Space Station". ESA – ATV. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  28. ^ "Deorbit burns set for Tuesday night/Wednesday morning". ESA ATV blog. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  29. ^ "Mission accomplished for ATV Edoardo Amaldi". 4 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  30. ^ "ATV-4 scheduled for summer liftoff". ESA. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  31. ^ "Mission brochure – ATV Albert Einstein". ESA. 14 April 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  32. ^ "Europe's largest spaceship reaches its orbital port". ESA. 15 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  33. ^ "A fiery end to a perfect mission: ATV Albert Einstein". ESA. 2 November 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  34. ^

External links

  • ATV 4 official site, mission brochure and mission blog via ESA.