The Soyuz launch vehicle lights up the launchpad in the early hours of Wednesday morning (Kazakh time).
This was the view from the International Space Station as the European Automated Transfer Vehicle "Albert Einstein" (ATV-4) undocked and began five days of orbital maneuvers before reentry on Nov. 2. The unmanned cargo vehicle had been docked to the space station for five months after delivering seven tons of food, supplies and equipment to the orbiting outpost in June. Filled with trash and unwanted equipment, the ATV became a high-tech waste disposal system on Oct. 28 as it began its reentry procedure. These are some of the spectacular views as seen by space station astronauts as the ATV slammed into the Earth's atmosphere.
The descending ATV-4 slowly approaching its reentry demise against the backdrop of Earth -- two commercial jetliners and their contrails can be seen.
From the space station astronauts perspective, the ATV can be seen interacting with the Earth's atmosphere some 62 miles (100 kilometers) directly below. Pieces of the ATV are ripped away by extreme stresses and begin to burn up.
The main mass of the ATV burns brightly during reentry over an unpopulated region of the Pacific Ocean on Nov. 2.
Resembling a meteor, the main mass of the ATV succumbs to the extreme heating and dynamic stresses as it tumbles through the atmosphere.
The remaining mass of the ATV breaks up, scattering pieces as the spacecraft lights up the skies over the Pacfic Ocean.
Russian flight controllers are working to figure out why a Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three new crewmembers for the International Space Station failed to fire its steering thrusters as planned, officials said on Tuesday.
NASA astronaut Steven Swanson and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev blasted off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket at 5:17 p.m. EDT on Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for what was expected to be a six-hour ride to the station.
The crew’s Soyuz capsule, however, failed to fire its steering rockets as expected, delaying the ship’s arrival until at least Thursday evening.
“The crew is in no danger,” mission commentator Rob Navias said during a NASA Television broadcast.
The Soyuz has enough supplies for the crew to last beyond two days, should that be necessary, Navias added.
Russian flight controllers were working to figure out if a software issue, a mechanical problem or something else is responsible for the missed thruster burns, added NASA spokesman Josh Byerly.