Launcher build-up begins for Arianespace’s fifth Ariane 5 mission to orbit an Automated Transfer Vehicle
The Ariane 5 for Arianespace’s fifth flight to service the International Space Station is now being assembled in French Guiana, preparing the launcher for its 2014 mission with another European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo resupply vessel.
Build-up procedures commenced this week in the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building with positioning of the core cryogenic stage over its mobile launch table, then the subsequent rollout of Ariane 5’s two large solid rocket boosters for mating with the core stage.
This activity is to be followed by integration of the EPS storable propellant upper stage and vehicle equipment bay, which will complete the basic assembly for the Ariane 5 ES version used on all missions with ATVs.
The ATV program – managed by the European Space Agency (ESA) – is part of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station’s operation. Prime contractor is Airbus Defence and Space, which also is the industrial architect for Ariane 5.
All ATVs have been orbited by Ariane 5 launchers, beginning with “Jules Verne” in March 2008, which was followed by “Johannes Kepler” in February 2011, “Edoardo Amaldi” in March 2012, and last June’s flight with “Albert Einstein.”
The fifth ATV, and final in the series, is designated “Georges Lemaître” after the Belgian physicist and father of the Big Bang theory, and it will resupply the International Space Station, in addition to performing maneuvers that maintain this manned facility’s nominal orbit and testing new rendezvous sensors in space.
ATV Georges Lemaître currently is located at the Spaceport, where its cargo loading began earlier this month.