The cargo resupply ship named Albert Einstein—officially called the Automated Transfer Vehicle-4—is on its way to the International Space Station loaded down with supplies.
It launched yesterday aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s spaceport (and man, how I love even writing that word) in French Guiana* at sunset. It’s carrying over 2500 kilograms (5500 pounds) of supplies to the station—the heaviest load taken to ISS by a European spacecraft. It’s a total of 1400 separate items, including food, water, clothing, equipment, even air. Once docked to the station, it has enough propellant to be able to boost the complex to a higher orbit, too: Over time, the station’s orbit drops due to drag with the Earth’s ethereally-thin upper atmosphere, so the occasional reboost is necessary.
Einstein is in a parking orbit for a while, using solar cells to power itself. It can’t go straight to the station because at the moment a Russian Progress space capsule is docked in the port Einstein needs. The Progress is due to undock on June 11; it’s filled with trash and other unneeded material, and will be sent down into Earth’s atmosphere to burn up. Once the port is cleared, Einstein can approach and dock. That’s scheduled for June 15, 2013.
I imagine the docking will be broadcast live. I hope so, as they are beautiful and gracefully dramatic events.
[Correction (18:15 UTC): I originally wrote the spaceport was in New Guinea due to some weird hiccup in my brain.]
TODAY IN SLATE
Smash and Grab
Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?
Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.
The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team
The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
Forget Oculus Rift
This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.