ATV-3, now world's largest spacecraft, docks with space station (photos)
The European Space Agency's unmanned cargo spacecraft docks last week for the third time with the International Space Station, bringing supplies like experiment hardware, spare parts, food, and clothing.
Automated Transfer Vehicle-3: We deliver
Since the end of space shuttle flights, the European Space Agency's "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3) has taken on the title of world's largest spacecraft. Last week, the unmanned resupply vehicle made its third visit to the International Space Station, delivering 7 tons of critical supplies including fresh food, water, clothing, spare parts, and experiments.
ATV-3 is seen approaching the Space Station on March 28, 2012.
Special delivery! The Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 docked with the International Space Station on March 29, delivering 220 pounds of oxygen, 628 pounds of water, 4.5 tons of propellant, and nearly 2.5 tons of dry cargo.
Carrying a record-breaking 7 tons of cargo, ATV-3 is currently the world's largest single operational spacecraft, delivering vital operational supplies including 860 kilos of fuel, 100 kilos of gas, air and oxygen, 280 liters of water, and a water recycling system.
The resupply vehicle was launched March 23 and will remain docked with the ISS for six months before being released and sent spinning back to Earth. It will be intentionally destroyed during reentry, along with its cargo of trash from the space station.