A view of Earth as seen from the Cupola on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station. Visible in the top left foreground is a Russian Soyuz crew capsule. In the lower right corner, a solar array panel can be seen.
This photo was taken from the ISS on June 12, 2013.
Image Credit: NASA
ESA’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Albert Einstein, completed a flawless rendezvous with the International Space Station on 15 June when it docked smoothly with orbital outpost at 14:07 GMT (16:07 CEST).
The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is now connected to the Space Station.
“Bravo Europe, bravo ESA, bravo ATV. Thank you Member States, thank you industry, thank you CNES, thank you Russian partner,” commented Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA.
“With the fourth ATV now ready to support and supply the Space Station with essential supplies and scientific experiments, ESA again proves itself to be a reliable partner in the international station upon which the future can be developed.”
Gentle contact; amazing achievement
The 20-tonne ferry, the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by Europe, flew autonomously and docked with the 420-tonne complex with a precision of a few cm as both circled Earth at 28 000 km/h.
“Such a gentle contact between a spacecraft the size of a double-decker bus and a Station 20 times larger is an amazing achievement, highlighting the impressive level of control achieved by this European space system developed by our industry under ESA’s direction,” said Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.
“These impressive technological capabilities will live on in the service module of NASA’s upcoming Orion crew vehicle.”
Autonomous docking at 28 000 km/h
The rendezvous and docking were performed autonomously by ATV’s own computers, closely monitored by flight controllers from ESA and France’s CNES space agency at the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France, and by Luca Parmitano and his crewmates on the Station.
Like its predecessors, ATV-4 is much more than a simple supply vessel: it is a space tug, a tanker, a freighter and a temporary habitation module.
To compensate for the natural decay in altitude of the Station’s orbit caused by atmospheric drag, it is loaded with 2580 kg of propellant to perform regular reboosts. It can even move the entire space complex out of the path of hazardous space debris. ATV also provides attitude control when other spacecraft are approaching the Station.
In its tanks, it carries 860 kg of propellant, 100 kg of oxygen and air, and 570 kg of drinking water, all to be pumped into the Station’s tanks.
In its pressurised cargo module, it carries more than 1400 items packed into 141 bags, including 2480 kg of dry cargo such as scientific equipment, spare parts, food and clothes for the astronauts.
During its four months attached to the Station, ATV will provide 45 cubic metres of extra crew quarters. On previous missions, the addition was welcomed by the astronauts as “the quietest place in the Station” and was often the preferred area for working.
At the end of its mission, scheduled for 28 October, ATV-4 will separate from the Station, packed with waste bags. The following day, it will be directed to burn up safely in the atmosphere during reentry over the South Pacific Ocean.
First woman in space: Valentina
16 June 2013Valentina Tereshkova was born in Maslennikovo, near Yaroslavl, in Russia on 6 March 1937. Her father was a tractor driver and her mother worked in a textile factory. Interested in parachuting from a young age, Tereshkova began skydiving at a local flying club, making her first jump at the age of 22 in May 1959. At the time of her selection as a cosmonaut, she was working as a textile worker in a local factory.
After the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin, the selection of female cosmonaut trainees was authorised by the Soviet government, with the aim of ensuring the first woman in space was a Soviet citizen.
On 16 February 1962, out of more than 400 applicants, five women were selected to join the cosmonaut corps: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Irina Solovyova, Zhanna Yorkina, Valentina Ponomaryova and Valentina Tereshkova. The group spent several months in training, which included weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, 120 parachute jumps and pilot training in jet aircraft.
Four candidates passed the final examinations in November 1962, after which they were commissioned as lieutenants in the Soviet air force (meaning Tereshkova also became the first civilian to fly in space, since technically these were only honorary ranks).
Originally a joint mission was planned that would see two women launched on solo Vostok flights on consecutive days in March or April 1963. Tereshkova, Solovyova and Ponomaryova were the leading candidates. It was intended that Tereshkova would be launched first in Vostok 5, with Ponomaryova following her in Vostok 6.
However, this plan was changed in March 1963: Vostok 5 would carry a male cosmonaut, Valeri Bykovsky, flying the mission with a woman in Vostok 6 in June. The Russian space authorities nominated Tereshkova to make the joint flight.
Flight of the ‘Seagull’
After watching the launch of Vostok 5 at Baikonur Cosmodrome on 14 June, Tereshkova completed preparations for her own flight. On the morning of 16 June, Tereshkova and her backup Solovyova both dressed in spacesuits and were taken to the launch pad by bus. After completing checks of communication and life support systems, she was sealed inside her spacecraft.
After a two-hour countdown, Vostok 6 lifted off without fault and, within hours, she was in communication with Bykovsky in Vostok 5, marking the second time that two manned spacecraft were in space at the same time. With the radio call sign ‘Chaika’ (‘seagull’), Tereshkova had become the first woman in space. She was 26.
Tereshkova’s televised image was broadcast throughout the Soviet Union and she spoke to Khrushchev by radio. She maintained a flight log and performed various tests to collect data on her body’s reaction to spaceflight. Her photographs of Earth and the horizon were later used to identify aerosol layers within the atmosphere.
Her mission lasted just under three days (two days, 23 hours, and 12 minutes). With a single flight, she had logged more flight time than the all the US Mercury astronauts who had flown to that date combined. Both Tereshkova and Bykovsky were record-holders. Bykovsky had spent nearly five days in orbit and even today he retains the record for having spent the longest period of time in space alone.
ESA’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo ferry, Albert Einstein, is ready for launch on an Ariane 5 rocket to the International Space Station on 5 June from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The liftoff at 21:52 GMT (23:52 CEST) will be covered live from Kourou for broadcasters and on the web, and followed at events in Germany and Switzerland.
ATV Albert Einstein continues ESA’s commitment to yearly deliveries to the Space Station. The mission follows three previous spacecraft, Jules Verne (launched March 2008), Johannes Kepler (February 2011) and Edoardo Amaldi (March 2012). The next one, ATV George Lemaître, is being prepared for launch next year.
ATV Albert Einstein, named after the scientist most famous for developing the theory of relativity, will deliver essential supplies and propellant as well as reboost the Station’s altitude.
At more than 20 tonnes, the highly sophisticated ferry is the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by Europe. The spacecraft is four vehicles in one, bringing equipment and supplies, replenishing the Station’s propellant tanks, keeping the Station aloft and providing a module for the astronauts to live in.
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, now working and living on the Station, will monitor the rendezvous and docking on 15 June, and assist with unpacking and storing supplies.
The ship has the largest cargo capability of all the vehicles that visit the orbital outpost: ATV-4 will deliver a total of 6.6 tonnes. Albert Einstein carries more dry cargo than any ATV to date, delivering 2480 kg of scientific equipment, spare parts, food and clothes for the astronauts. It also will also deliver 100 kg of gas, more than 570 litres of drinking water and about 860 kg of propellant – all pumped into the Station’s tanks.
As a space tug, Albert Einstein is loaded with 2580 kg of its own propellant. ATV reboosts help to counteract atmospheric drag that causes the Station to lose up to 100 m of altitude each day. It also controls the attitude of the whole Station when other spacecraft are approaching. If necessary, it can even move the orbital complex out of the way of potentially threatening space debris.
Before leaving the Station, ATV-4 will be filled with waste bags and unwanted hardware by the crew. It will then be deorbited over the southern Pacific Ocean to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.
From the time of its separation from Ariane until its descent, the ferry will be commanded from the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France, located on the premises of France’s space agency, CNES. From there, operations are coordinated with all other Station ground sites during its mission, including the main Station control centres in Moscow and Houston.
Astrium is the industrial prime contractor, leading a team of more than 30 contractors in 10 European countries.
The last ATV in the series, to be launched next year, will not be the end of the ATV programme. Building on the spacecraft’s track record and advanced design, ESA will supply ATV-derived hardware for NASA’s Orion spacecraft to power humans to the Moon and beyond. Orion is scheduled for a test flight in 2017.
This artist’s rendering shows what capturing an asteroid could look like.
NASA’s FY2014 budget proposal includes a plan to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it.
Performing these elements for the proposed asteroid initiative integrates the best of NASA’s science, technology and human exploration capabilities and draws on the innovation of America’s brightest scientists and engineers. It uses current and developing capabilities to find both large asteroids that pose a hazard to Earth and small asteroids that could be candidates for the initiative, accelerates our technology development activities in high-powered solar electric propulsion and takes advantage of our hard work on the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, helping to keep NASA on target to reach the President’s goal of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.
Image Credit: NASA/Advanced Concepts Lab
- Title Tim Peake meets Prime Minister David Cameron
- Released 23/05/2013 4:45 pm
- Copyright Max Alexander/UK Space Agency
- DescriptionESA astronaut Tim Peake, of British nationality, meets Prime Minister David Cameron at number 10, Downing Street.
The Engine Burns Blue
This image shows a cutting-edge solar-electric propulsion thruster in development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., that uses xenon ions for propulsion. An earlier version of this solar-electric propulsion engine has been flying on NASA’s Dawn mission to the asteroid belt.
This engine is being considered as part of the Asteroid Initiative, a proposal to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it. This image was taken through a porthole in a vacuum chamber at JPL where the ion engine is being tested.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Tim was a helicopter test pilot before joining the ESA astronaut corps in 2009. He is the third ESA astronaut from the new class of 2009 to be assigned a mission to the International Space Station.
The news comes as a culmination of 18 years of flight experience for the British Army and as a civilian pilot. An intense training schedule awaits Tim as he flies around the world to learn Space Station procedures from the international partners that built and operate the orbital outpost: Canada, USA, Russia, Japan and Europe.
Prime Minister David Cameron wished Tim well and said: “I am sure he will do us proud and I hope that he will inspire the next generation to pursue exciting careers in science and engineering.”
Tim’s classmate ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is heading for the International Space Station next week on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Alexander Gerst and Samantha Cristoforetti will follow one year later in 2014. Andreas Mogensen and Thomas Pesquet will fly before 2017.
Curiosity at ‘Cumberland’
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity used its front left Hazard-Avoidance Camera for this image of the rover’s arm over the drilling target “Cumberland” during the 275th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (May 15, 2013).
The rover team plans to use Curiosity’s drill to collect a powdered sample from the interior of the rock for analysis by laboratory instruments inside the rover. This is the mission’s second rock-drilling target. The rover drove from its position beside the first drilling target, “John Klein,” to its position beside Cumberland with drives of 121 inches (308 centimeters) on Sol 273 (May 13) and 26.6 inches (67.5 centimeters) on Sol 275. Curiosity’s total odometry on Mars is now 2,385 feet (727 meters).
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
ESA astronaut Timothy Peake set for Space Station
20 May 2013ESA’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, announced today that the ISS Multilateral Crew Operations Panel has decided on Friday, 17 May to accept his proposal to fly astronaut Timothy Peake to the International Space Station in 2015.
“When we recruited the six new ESA astronauts in May 2009, I made a promise to secure flight opportunities for all of them. Thanks to the decisions of the Member States at the Ministerial Council last November, we will be able to fulfil our commitment to fly all six newly selected astronauts before the end of 2017. The first three astronauts already had their missions assigned. Today I am very happy to announce the assignment of Timothy Peake for a mission to the International Space Station. The two remaining astronauts, Andreas Mogensen and Thomas Pesquet, will be assigned before mid-2015 for flights at the latest in 2017.”
Timothy Peake will join the crew of Expedition 46/47 for six months in 2015. He will be the first British citizen to live and work on the Space Station and it will be the eighth long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut.
Timothy’s classmate ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is preparing for launch to the orbital outpost on 28 May. Timothy’s mission will follow those of ESA astronauts Alexander Gerst and Samantha Cristoforetti, both scheduled for launch in 2014.
“The value of Europe’s astronauts and the training given at the European Astronaut Centre is reflected in the large number of mission assignments awarded to ESA astronauts,” notes Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.
A former helicopter test pilot and Major in the British Army, Timothy is thrilled with his assignment: “I am delighted to be proposed for a long-duration mission to the International Space Station. This is another important mission for Europe and in particular a wonderful opportunity for European science, industry and education to benefit from microgravity research.
“Since joining the European Astronaut Corps in 2009, I have been training to work on the Station and I am extremely grateful to the ground support teams who make it possible for us to push the boundaries of knowledge through human spaceflight and exploration.”
About Timothy Peake
In 2009, Timothy was appointed as a UK ambassador for science and space-based careers. He has worked with the UK Space Agency in developing the country’s microgravity research programme.
After graduating from basic astronaut training in November 2010, Timothy continued training to increase his skills in weightlessness, including working in spacesuits, and his knowledge of the different modules of the Space Station.
In 2011, Timothy took part in ESA’s international Caves training that simulated space exploration during a week-long stay underground, isolated from the outside world.
In 2012, he spent almost two weeks in an underwater base off the coast of Florida, USA, as part of NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO – a testbed for space exploration technologies. The course focused on asteroid exploration involving communication delays with ground control and working on a simulated asteroid.
From his homebase at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, Timothy will start his mission training with the partners of the International Space Station. It will take him to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA, Star City, near Moscow, Russia, as well as Japan and Canada.
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.
ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU and is discussing an Agreement with the one remaining (Bulgaria). Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
Learn more at www.esa.int
For further information, please contact:
ESA Media Relations Office Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99 Fax: +33 1 53 69 76 90 Email: email@example.com
For interview opportunities, please contact:
Jules Grandsire European Astronaut Centre Astronaut Communication Officer Tel: +49 22 03 6001 205 Email: Jules.Grandsire@esa.int