ESA's ATV-4 Departs ISS and other Cargo Delivery News
The European Space Agency's Fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4) departed from ISS on October 28th, 2013. The plan is to deorbit the ATV on Saturday, November 2nd, into the Pacific's spacecraft cemetery, which is a patch of unoccupied ocean about 3900 km southeast of New Zealand. The deorbit is being done in such a way that the crew of the ISS will be able to witness, take measurements, and record video the re-entry of the spacecraft. The re-entry data is being collected to better understand the characteristics of "targeted re-entry", the data will be used to improve re-entry predictions for other craft, such as the GOCE satellite, which is re-entering in a few days.
The undocking of ATV-4 from the ISS marks the end of a fairly busy period of deliveries and departures at the station. In the previous week, the Cygnus cargo delivery spacecraft undocked and made it's way to the spacecraft cemetery, at the beginning of the month (Actually at the hairy end of September) the Cygnus arrived. And in the beginning of September, JAXA's HTV-4 departed the station. That makes a total of three different cargo carriers arriving at or departing from the space station in 2 months. Cargo delivery is becoming a thriving business up there.