June 5, 2013: launch of ATV-4, supply ship to the International Space Station.

June 5, 2013: launch of ATV-4, supply ship to the International Space Station.

On June 5, 2013 a specially adapted Ariane 5 rocket placed the 20.2 tons of the ATV-4 ‘Albert Einstein’ into orbit on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). © ESA–S. Corvaja, 2013

On June 5, 2013 a specially adapted Ariane 5 rocket placed the 20.2 tons of the ATV-4 ‘Albert Einstein’ into orbit on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). © ESA–S. Corvaja, 2013

‘Albert Einstein’ was the fourth of a series of five Automated Transport Vehicles (ATV), completely automated cargo ships for the ISS. © Arianespace

‘Albert Einstein’ was the fourth of a series of five Automated Transport Vehicles (ATV), completely automated cargo ships for the ISS. © Arianespace

The ATVs delivered essential supplies of fuel, food, water and equipment to the astronauts on board the ISS. At the end of their mission they were filled with waste, de-docked and disintegrated as they re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. © ESA–CNES–Arianespace Optique Video CSG

The ATVs delivered essential supplies of fuel, food, water and equipment to the astronauts on board the ISS. At the end of their mission they were filled with waste, de-docked and disintegrated as they re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. © ESA–CNES–Arianespace Optique Video CSG

The ATV is the biggest payload (20 tons, 10m x 4.5m) ever lofted by the Ariane rocket, around twice that of a “standard” mission. And the target orbit is unusual: circular, as opposed to elliptical, as for standard missions. © ESA-CNES

The ATV is the biggest payload (20 tons, 10m x 4.5m) ever lofted by the Ariane rocket, around twice that of a “standard” mission. And the target orbit is unusual: circular, as opposed to elliptical, as for standard missions. © ESA-CNES

This needed a special version of Ariane 5: Ariane 5 ES, reinforced and with a re-ignitable upper stage (Aestus engine). © ESA–S. Corvaja, 2013

This needed a special version of Ariane 5: Ariane 5 ES, reinforced and with a re-ignitable upper stage (Aestus engine). © ESA–S. Corvaja, 2013

Despite its mass of nearly 20 tonnes and 22 metre span, the ATV is so precise that it can dock autonomously with the ISS at a speed of 28,000 km/h and with a precision of less than 10 cm. © ESA

Despite its mass of nearly 20 tonnes and 22 metre span, the ATV is so precise that it can dock autonomously with the ISS at a speed of 28,000 km/h and with a precision of less than 10 cm. © ESA

ATV-4 brought the largest assortment ever to the ISS. In addition to toothbrushes, t-shirts, socks and essential equipment, astronauts could enjoy peanut butter, waffles, strawberries, lasagne, parmesan, and macadamia nuts. © ESA

ATV-4 brought the largest assortment ever to the ISS. In addition to toothbrushes, t-shirts, socks and essential equipment, astronauts could enjoy peanut butter, waffles, strawberries, lasagne, parmesan, and macadamia nuts. © ESA

When the Ariane 5 ES blasted off on June 5, 2013, it had other smaller, passengers on board – a set of cameras which recorded the very first spectacular video footage of the ATV separating from the rocket and being released into free flight.<br />
The images offer a close-up perspective on the dynamic processes taking place during the separation of the ATV from Ariane. © ESA-NASA<br />

When the Ariane 5 ES blasted off on June 5, 2013, it had other smaller, passengers on board – a set of cameras which recorded the very first spectacular video footage of the ATV separating from the rocket and being released into free flight.
The images offer a close-up perspective on the dynamic processes taking place during the separation of the ATV from Ariane. © ESA-NASA

Ariane 5 ES successfully launched all five ATVs between 2008 and 2014. © ESA–S. Corvaja, 2013

Ariane 5 ES successfully launched all five ATVs between 2008 and 2014. © ESA–S. Corvaja, 2013

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