Press Release

Press Release

Mission accomplished! ATV2 cargo vessel en route for the International Space Station

Kourou, French Guiana, February 16, 2011

On Wednesday, February 16, Arianespace’s first mission of the year successfully launched the second ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle), designated Johannes Kepler, for the European Space Agency.

200th Ariane launch, 56th Ariane 5 launch, 42nd success in a row

This latest successful Ariane 5 launch, the 200th Ariane launch and the first mission in 2011, once again proves the launcher’s operational capabilities. Ariane 5 handles a complete range of missions, from commercial launches into geostationary orbit to dedicated launches into special orbits.

The 56th launch of an Ariane 5, and 42nd successful mission in a row, clearly demonstrates the launcher’s reliability and availability. It also set a new payload record, by boosting more than 20 metric tons into low Earth orbit.

Today’s mission confirms that Arianespace’s launch Service & Solutions continue to set the global standard and guarantee independent access to space for all customers, including national and international space agencies, private firms and governments.

Second successful Ariane 5 ES launch

For the ATV2 Johannes Kepler mission, Arianespace used the Ariane 5 ES version of the launcher. It was the second successful launch of this version,  following the original ATV1 Jules Verne mission in March 2008.

Arianespace uses the Ariane 5 ES version to launch ATV cargo vessels to the International Space Station. Ariane 5 ES uses the same lower composite as the standard Ariane 5 ECA launcher, comprising the cryogenic main stage and solid boosters, plus a special upper composite, the EPS reignitable storable propellant stage.

A new mission for the Guiana Space Center

Today’s launch marks Arianespace’s second mission to the International Space Station, confirming the Guiana Space Center’s membership in the highly select “club” of launch sites serving the Space Station, alongside Baikonur, Cape Canaveral and Tanegashima.

ATV2 mission at a glance

The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ES launcher from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm local time in Kourou (21:50 UT, 10:50 pm in Paris, 3:50 pm in Houston, TX, and on Thursday, February 17, at 12:50 am in Moscow).

The ATV2 Johannes Kepler cargo vessel

The Automated Transfer Vehicle, or ATV, is designed to bring supplies to the International Space Station (water, air, food, propellants for the Russian section, spare parts, experimental hardware, etc.), and to reboost the ISS into its nominal orbit. The ISS now weighs more than 376 metric tons, including the European laboratory Columbus. After being docked to the ISS for several months, the ATV2 will be loaded with waste items, then detached from the ISS and deorbited.

After separating from the launch vehicle, the ATV2 will be autonomous, using its own systems for energy (batteries and four large solar panels) and guidance (GPS, star sensor), in liaison with the control center in Toulouse. During final approach, an optical navigation system will guide the ATV2 to its rendezvous with the Space Station, where it will automatically dock several days after launch. The ATV2 will remain docked to the ISS for about three and a half months, before separating and making a guided reentry, where it will disintegrate in the atmosphere.

The ATV2 was built by Astrium leading a large consortium of European manufacturers. A large cylinder measuring about 10 meters long by 4.5 meters in diameter, the ATV2 comprises two main parts: a service module with the avionics and propulsion systems, and a pressurized cargo carrier.

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