Ariane 5 is “GO” for its milestone heavy-lift flight to service the International Space Station
Arianespace’s Ariane 5 mission with its heaviest payload ever has been given the “GO” for liftoff from French Guiana on a June 5 flight to service the International Space Station with Europe’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).
The green light was provided today following the Launch Readiness Review, which verified the status of Ariane 5 and its ATV payload – named after Albert Einstein, along with the Spaceport’s infrastructure and the downrange tracking network.
All is now set for Ariane 5’s rollout to the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone tomorrow, followed by the final countdown for an evening liftoff on Wednesday.
For its phasing to rendezvous with the International Space Station, the ATV’s launch is set at a precise moment on June 5 – which will be at 6:52:11 p.m. local time in French Guiana, based on the latest orbital calculations from the European Space Agency’s flight dynamics team.
ATV Albert Einstein is part of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station program, and its liftoff mass of 20,235 kg. marks the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by Europe – carrying the largest dry cargo load to be ferried by any of the Automated Transfer Vehicles.
Installed aboard the ATV are scientific experiments, water, gases, propellant, spare parts, food and clothing. Certain elements of its cargo are being delivered on behalf of other international partners involved in the orbital station, and include items for the U.S. NASA and Japanese JAXA space agencies.
Arianespace has launched all three of the ATVs orbited to date, with the previous resupply craft lofted by Ariane 5s in March 2008, February 2011 and March 2012.
The European Space Agency manages the ATV program, with an Astrium-led industry consortium responsible for producing the resupply spacecraft.