Launcher preparations begin for Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 mission with the Automated Transfer Vehicle
The launcher for Arianespace’s fourth flight with an Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is rapidly taking shape at the Spaceport, preparing it for liftoff in the spring from French Guiana with the International Space Station’s latest resupply spacecraft.
During activity this month in the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building, the heavy-lift vehicle’s core cryogenic stage was suspended over the mobile launch table, followed by positioning of its two solid propellant boosters.
The launcher’s EPS storable propellant upper stage will then be installed, readying the Ariane 5 for transfer to the Final Assembly Building, where the latest ATV – named after Albert Einstein – is to be mated.
Produced by an Astrium-led industry team for the European Space Agency, the Automated Transfer Vehicles are designed to deliver water, fuel, food and scientific equipment to the International Space Station. Additionally, the ATVs are regularly used in re-boosting the crewed orbital facility to its operational orbit of approximately 400 km., as well as for carrying out maneuvers to avoid collisions with space debris.
Arianespace lofted the first ATV aboard an Ariane 5 in March 2008, followed by launches of the two others in February 2011 and March 2012.