Officials at the European Space Agency (ESA) announce that their third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-3), dubbed Edoardo Amaldi, was successfully launched into orbit earlier today, at 05:34 CET (0443 GMT). The spacecraft was carried to space aboard an Arianespace Ariane 5 heavy-lift delivery system.
The rocket soared into the night sky from the Kourou Spaceport, in French Guiana, South America, where Edoardo Amaldi has been undergoing preparations, testing and checks for a few months.
The unmanned capsule carries fuel, food, water, spare parts, personal items and other supplies for the six astronauts currently aboard the orbital lab. At 777 tons, it is the largest cargo module ever delivered to space aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.
ATV-3 will be followed by ATV-4, which is named Albert Einstein (February 2013) and ATV-5, codenamed Georges Lemaître (February 2014), ESA announces.