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Amazing video shows space cargo ship’s fiery destruction

The crew of ISS delivered this spectacular imagery of the fireworks as the vehicle slammed into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean

The European Space Agency released this wonderful video earlier this month (February 2, 2015). It shows the fiery re-entry of Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4 Albert Einstein), which met its demise on November 2, 2013. It had delivered 7 tons of supplies to the International Space Station and was carrying away 1.6 tons of trash and used clothing.

The crew of ISS delivered this spectacular imagery of the fireworks as the ATV-4 slammed into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. It was the first ATV re-entry video captured since ATV-1 Jules Verne re-entered in 2008.

ESA constructed and launched five ATVs to ISS as part of an international agreement with NASA and other agencies. The last one, named for the physicist Georges Lemaitre, is currently docked to ISS and being loaded with trash. Yesterday (February 9, 2015), ESA astronaut Samantha Christoforetti was scheduled to float into ATV Georges Lemitre to install a special infrared camera, set to capture unique interior views of that vehicle’s break-up on reentry. Neil Murray, who oversees the project for ESA, said in a statement:

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.

Recording at 10 frames per second, it should show us the last 10 seconds or so of the ATV. 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?

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Now here’s a slightly longer version of the video above. If you’ll notice the little box in the lower left, you’ll see an animation of ATV Albert Einstein’s re-entry, along with the actual footage:

Bottom line: A newly released video shows the fiery re-entry in November, 2013 of ESA’s space freighter ATV Albert Einstein. ESA released the video, which had been captured by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), in early February 2015. This week (February 9, 2015), ESA is installing a video infrared camera inside another of its Automated Transfer Vehicles, ATV Georges Lemaitre – which is currently docked with ISS – to capture that vehicle’s re-entry from the inside.

Deborah Byrd

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