- ATV-3 launched from the European Space Agency's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
- The cargo ship is loaded with 7.2 tons of food, water, clothing, experiments and fuel for the space station.
- ATV-3 is nicknamed "Edoardo Amaldi" after an Italian spaceflight pioneer who helped create ESA.
A huge robot European cargo ship launched to the International Space Station today (March 23), lighting up the night sky over the northeast coast of South America to begin a five-day journey to deliver key supplies to the orbiting outpost.
The European Space Agency's third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-3) lifted off at 12:34 a.m. EDT (0434 GMT) atop an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. After a brief light show, the rocket slipped through a cloud layer and soared into orbit.
The 13-ton cargo freighter is loaded with about 7.2 tons of supplies, including food, water, clothing, experiments and fuel for the space station, according to NASA. The unmanned ATV-3 is the heaviest load of cargo ever delivered to the station by a robotic spacecraft, ESA officials said in a statement.