Mission Update

Mission Update

Arianespace's Ariane 5 delivers another ATV for International Space Station servicing


March 23, 2012 – Ariane Flight VA205


Ariane 5 climbs through a low cloud deck as it ascends from French Guiana on the mission to deploy Europe’s no. 3 Automated Transfer Vehicle.

The ability of Arianespace to provide a full range of launch services for its international customers was underscored by today’s successful Ariane 5 mission, which orbited the latest European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for servicing of the International Space Station.

Lifting off from the Spaceport in French Guiana, an Ariane 5 ES version carried the heaviest payload ever for Arianespace’s workhorse launcher – deploying the ATV into a 260-km. low Earth orbit. The Ariane 5’s lift performance for this early morning flight was over 20,000 kg, including the 19,700-kg.-plus mass of the ATV.

Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall congratulated the various teams in Europe that contributed to the latest mission success, including the European Space Agency and those agencies in participating ATV program countries, along with the resupply spacecraft’s industrial team and the companies that produce Ariane 5.

“This is a success as well for the Guiana Space Center, which reconfirms its role in the small ‘club’ that supports the International Space Station’s servicing – along with the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Cape Canaveral, and Tanegashima,” Le Gall added in post-launch comments from the Spaceport. “It is clear that the quality of installations here in French Guiana, and the quality of the welcoming spirit provided for our international customers, also count.”

Ariane 5 contributed to its own operational track record with today’s mission, marking the launcher’s 47th consecutive success on its 61st flight overall.

The ATV orbited by Ariane 5 is named after Italian physicist and spaceflight pioneer Edoardo Amaldi, and carries 6.6 metric tons of cargo for the International Space Station – including food, clothing, experiments, tools and spare parts, as well as propellant for the multi-national crewed orbital facility. In addition to serving as a resupply spacecraft, the ATV also will function as a “tug” while docked to the crewed orbital facility

Liftoff of ATV Edoardo Amaldi came exactly at 1:34 a.m. local time in French Guiana, with this precise timing required for the spacecraft’s orbital positioning to dock with the International Space Station. The ATV was built an Astrium-led industry consortium, and follows the first two resupply craft – which were orbited by Arianespace on Ariane 5 missions in February 2011 and March 2008.

Arianespace’s next flight from the Spaceport is planned for May 15, using an Ariane 5 ECA version to place two telecommunications satellites into geostationary transfer orbit: Japan’s JCSAT-13 and VINASAT-2 for Vietnam.

For more information on this launch success, read the press release and our photo focus story.

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