The ATV-5 was released into a circular orbit by the Ariane 5 ES launch vehicle, at an inclination of 51.6 degrees and an altitude of 260 km.
After separating from the launch vehicle, the ATV-5 will be autonomous, using its own systems for energy (batteries and four large solar panels) and guidance (GPS, star sensor), in liaison with the CNES control center in Toulouse. During final approach, an optical navigation system will guide the ATV-5 to its rendezvous with the Space Station, where it will automatically dock on August 12. It will remain docked to the ISS for nearly six months, before making a guided reentry and disintegrating in the atmosphere.
The ATV ferries supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), including water, oxygen, fuel, spare parts and equipment for onboard experiments, on behalf of ESA and NASA. Docked to the ISS, the ATV also helps reboost the ISS into its nominal orbit at an altitude of 450 km. The ISS structure now weighs about 420 metric tons, and includes the European laboratory, Columbus. After being docked to the ISS for six months, the ATV-5 will be loaded with waste and other expendable materials, then detached from the ISS and deorbited.