Europe space truck docks with ISS

AFP-JIJI

A freighter bearing 6.6 tons of cargo docked with the International Space Station on Saturday, the European Space Agency said.

The fourth of the agency’s automated transfer vehicles berthed with the ISS 10 days after being launched by a Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The resupply ship, named after Albert Einstein, is laden with food, water, oxygen, science experiments and special treats for the ISS astronauts. It is the size of a double-decker bus — 10 meters long and 4.5 in diameter. It is designed to find its way automatically to the ISS, navigating by starlight and using its onboard thrusters to gently dock with the manned orbital outpost.

During its four-month mission, the automated transfer vehicle will act as a store room and additional living quarters for the ISS. It will also use its thrusters to boost the station, which is in low Earth orbit and loses altitude because of lingering atmospheric friction, to higher altitudes. The freighter is set to undock in October filled with about 6 tons of garbage, and burn up over the Pacific.