This time-lapse video shows the intricate steps involved as the European Space Agency loads its latest Automated Transport Vehicle in preparation for a summer launch. The ATV-5 will be carried on an Ariane 5 rocket from the agency's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, and will deliver 2,600 kilograms of dry cargo to the International Space Station.
Loading the ATV-5 is a painstakingly slow process—cargo has to endure the extremities of launch plus every little bit of space counts. Items are placed in standard bags, strapped tightly to racks and the complete module is rotated to allow technicians access to the roof and floor compartments that are parts of the walls.
Loading is carried out in highly controlled conditions by technicians wearing cleanroom suits to avoid contamination. Living in space weakens human immune systems and precautions are taken to avoid taking harmful bacteria and viruses to the International Space Station.