Pre-flight checkout continues for the next ATV to be launched by Ariane 5
The preparation campaign for Europe’s fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is now in full swing at the Spaceport, where pre-flight checkout has commenced for the large cargo resupply spacecraft’s Service Module.
This major component – which includes propulsion systems, electrical power, computers, communications and avionics – was unloaded from its special shipping container and positioned for processing inside the Spaceport’s S5C preparation hall, joining the ATV’s Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) element that began its own checkout last week.
Four silicon-based solar arrays are outfitted on the Service Module, designed to unfold in orbit and reach a 22.3-meter span to provide electrical power for rechargeable batteries. These arrays – which can produce an average of 4,800 Watts – are totally independent from one another and can get the best orientation to the Sun due to rotating mechanisms.
The Service Module is to be mated with the Integrated Cargo Carrier during upcoming activity at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, forming the complete ATV spacecraft – which will be mounted on Ariane 5 using a cylindrical Separation and Distancing Module (SDM) that forms the interface between this resupply spacecraft and its launcher.
The ATV program, managed by the European Space Agency, is part of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station’s creation and operation. Astrium of the EADS group is the ATV’s prime contractor, leading a European industry team.
Named after Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître, this latest Automated Transfer Vehicle is planned by ESA for launch from the Spaceport in 2014 with Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ES version, which has been utilized for all ATV missions to date: “Jules Verne” in March 2008, “Johannes Kepler” in February 2011, “Edoardo Amaldi” in March 2012 and this past June’s successful flight with “Albert Einstein.”
In Arianespace’s current mission activity, the company’s next Ariane 5 liftoff – its fifth in 2013 – is scheduled for December 6 from French Guiana, carrying a dual-passenger payload of SES’ ASTRA 5B and the Amazonas 4A satellite for HISPASAT.