Europe Honors Einstein with Space Freighter


The fourth of Europe's robot freighters, due to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2013, has been named after Albert Einstein, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Thursday.

The 20-ton Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is one of Europe's main contributions to the multinational ISS project.

Launched aboard a beefed-up Ariane 5 rocket, the unmanned craft is designed to head to the ISS under its own power and then dock, carrying food and other essentials.

The trip is one-way because the ship, after being laden with waste, is jettisoned and then burns up in the atmosphere.

The first ATV, named after the 19th-century French trailblazer of science fiction Jules Verne, flew in 2008.

The second, named after Johannes Kepler, the German mathematician of the Age of Enlightenment, is currently hooked up to the ISS after launch on February 16.

The third ship, which is still under construction in Bremen, Germany, has been baptised after 20th-century Italian physicist Edoardo Amaldi. It is due for launch in February 2012, ESA said in a press release.

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