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Albert Einstein brings cheese and clean pyjamas to space station

'Nauts' peanut butter also in heaviest ATV load yet

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The European Space Agency has launched another heavy-hauling ATV robot cargo podule on a mission to bring supplies of cheese and fresh pyjamas to the International Space Station.

A mighty Ariane-5 rocket stack blasted the 20,190 kg Automated Transfer Vehicle on a trajectory toward the ISS just before 11 pm BST last night, which was the heaviest load the Ariane has ever lifted. The vessel, named Albert Einstein, is due to rendezvous with the ISS on June 15th.

Among the usual oxygen, food and drinking water, the cargo capsule is also bringing creature comforts to the 'nauts, including personal items like family photos and letters, and treats such as peanut butter and parmesan.

“With another successful launch of the ATV, and another record in lifting capacity, European industry demonstrates its capacity to produce unique spacecrafts, providing ESA with a key role among the partners of the International Space Station,” ESA chieftain Jean-Jacques Dordain apparently said - according to a tinned statement.

“This adventure is still in the making – ATV-4 is flying but ATV-5 is following and ATV technologies will survive beyond them in promising new programmes, such as NASA’s Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, for which ESA is developing the service module."

The Einstein is the fourth of a planned series of five ATVs to restock the station. It will spend over four months docked to the ISS' Zvezda module, providing extra storage and a rest area for crew members, before unplugging on October 28 loaded with space rubbish for re-entry and destruction over the South Pacific.

The final ATV, Georges Lemaître, is being prepped for launch in 2014. ®

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