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European space station cargo capsule becomes a fireball over the Pacific


This photo taken April 3, 2008 shows a model of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) at the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) in Toulouse, in southwestern France.


Lionel Bonaventure

A European Space Agency (ESA) cargo capsule went out in a blaze of glory this weekend after finishing its mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS).

The cargo capsule burned up over the Pacific Ocean, becoming a fireball hurtling towards Earth.

The destruction of the capsule was intentional, designed to help scientists learn about the physics of re-entry from space.

The five-month mission of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo ferry, Albert Einstein, began on June 5 from the European spaceport in French Guiana.

It took 10 days to reach the ISS with over 5,000 pounds of cargo. The items delivered included everything from food to clothes to spare parts. It also brought supplies to run the experiments taking place onboard.

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The multi-talented ATV also helped reboost the ISS and keep it in orbit, pushing back against the forces of atmospheric drag.

After being packed with a record-breaking amount of trash, the ISS was sent packing into oblivion.

The ATV and its trash dissolved in the atmosphere within seconds.

The ATV cargo vehicles are the most complex space machines ever built in Europe, according to the ESA. They are also the largest supply ships that restock the ISS.