ISS docking port view of the ATV-4 slowly backing away from the station. Credit: NASA TV.
The European Space Agency ATV-4 "Albert Einstein" has completed its mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Early Monday morning astronauts of the Expedition 37 team were on standby as mission controllers from the ground operated the spacecraft undocking. The craft had arrived on June 15 bringing a total of 7 tons' worth of food, fuel, and life support supplies to the ISS. Now filled with garbage, it will be slowly moved away from the station until Saturday. Then, mission controllers in Europe will fire the engine and direct the craft to a fiery re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.
For Expedition 37, this is a busy time of spacecraft shuffle. The Cygnus cargo ship was undocked last week, the ATV-4 removed this week, and next the astronauts will move the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft to a new port on the Zvesda module on Friday. This will clear the way for the arrival of Soyuz TMA-11M with three new crewmen on November 7. Following that arrival, crewmembers Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano will depart on Soyuz TMA-09M on November 10, ending Expedition 37.
Usually NASA posts high-resolution pictures of the comings-and-goings of spacecraft, but I haven't seen them post the pics from the ATV-4 undocking yet. I'll keep an eye out for that.