Washington: ESA`s 4th Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo ferry, Albert Einstein, finished its 5-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS) by re-entering the atmosphere and burning up safely over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific Ocean on Saturday.
Weighing 20 tonnes Albert Einstein delivered important cargo to keep the ISS operating and to allow the six astronauts on the orbital outpost to perform out-of-this-world experiments.
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano oversaw the automated docking and was responsible for unloading and storing all the scientific equipment, spare parts, supplies, clothes and food.
A small selection of ATV-4`s cargo includes experiments on emulsions that will help industry to create foods and pharmaceuticals with longer shelf-lives, a replacement water pump for Europe`s Columbus laboratory, a new water recycler for NASA , a GPS antenna for Japan`s Kibo laboratory and 3D-printed space toolboxes.
While docked, ATV-4 performed six reboosts to keep the Space Station in orbit, counteracting the effects of atmospheric drag. Without reboosts by ATV and Russia`s smaller Progress vehicles, the Station would eventually fall back to Earth.
Before its departure, astronauts loaded its pressurised module with waste material, freeing up space on the Station.
The European ferry undocked on 28 October at 08:55 GMT (09:55 CET) and manoeuvred itself into a safe re-entry trajectory about 100 km below the Station.
Albert Einstein performed a series of delicate manoeuvres to reenter below the Station in order for the astronauts to observe the spacecraft`s fragmentation in the upper atmosphere, providing unique information on reentry physics.
ATV-4 and its waste burnt up harmlessly in the upper atmosphere on 2 November at 12:04 GMT (13:04 CET).