Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

 

The European space transporter ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) ‘Georges Lemaître’ has “de-docked” from the International Space Station (ISS).

The ATV-5 spent more than 200 days in space – the longest period of any of the ATV spacecraft.

It is filled with 2.5 tons of waste – dry refuse, waste water and equipment that is no longer needed and will make a controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere shortly. It is being aimed at a designated “spacecraft graveyard” in an empty stretch of the South Pacific.

A Break-Up Camera, or BUC, is flying for the first time on this mission.

The slow burn. So long to ATV-5. Credit: Roscosmos-O. Artemyev

The slow burn. So long to ATV-5.
Credit: Roscosmos-O. Artemyev

This ATV’s fiery demise will be tracked with a battery of cameras and imagers, on the ground, in the air and even from the Station itself, and this time on the vehicle itself.

“The battery-powered camera will be trained on the Automated Transfer Vehicle’s forward hatch, and will record the shifting temperatures of the scene before it,” explains Neil Murray, overseeing the project for ESA.

“Recording at 10 frames per second, it should show us the last 10 seconds or so of the ATV,” Murray reports. “We don’t know exactly what we might see – might there be gradual deformations appearing as the spacecraft comes under strain, or will everything come apart extremely quickly?”

Results from gathering the ATV-5 reentry data is expected to be helpful for the eventual reentry of the International Space Station, according to ESA.

Keep an eye on the ATV-5 reentry at:

http://blogs.esa.int/atv/2015/02/13/undockingreentry-timeline/

And also this twitter feed at:

https://twitter.com/esaoperations

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