Mission accomplished! Arianespace launches ATV Edoardo Amaldi cargo vessel to the International Space Station
On Friday, March 23, 2012, Arianespace’s first Ariane 5 mission of the year, on behalf of the European Space Agency, successfully launched the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle), designated Edoardo Amaldi, to the International Space Station.
61st Ariane 5 launch, 47th success in a row
This latest successful Ariane 5 launch once again proves the launcher’s operational capabilities and its ability to ensure Europe’s independence in space. Ariane 5 handles a complete range of missions, from commercial launches into geostationary orbit to dedicated launches into special orbits. The 61st launch of an Ariane 5, and 47th 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.
Third successful Ariane 5 ES launch
Arianespace used the Ariane 5 ES version of the launcher for the ATV3 Edoardo Amaldi mission. It was the third successful launch of this version, following the original ATV1 Jules Verne mission in 2008, then the ATV2 Johannes Kepler mission in 2011. Arianespace uses the Ariane 5 ES version to launch ATV cargo vessels to the International Space Station, as well as for batches of satellites in the Galileo constellation. 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.
ATV3 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 Friday, March 23, 2012 at 1:34 am local time in Kourou (04:34 UT, 5:34 am in Paris, 1:34 pm in Moscow, and 11:34 pm in Houston, TX).
The ATV3 Edoardo Amaldi 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 418 metric tons, including the European laboratory Columbus. After being docked to the ISS for several months, the ATV3 will be loaded with waste and other expendable materials, then detached from the ISS and deorbited. After separating from the launch vehicle, the ATV3 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 ATV3 to its rendezvous with the Space Station, where it will automatically dock several days after launch. The ATV3 will remain docked to the ISS for nearly five months, before making a guided reentry, where it will disintegrate in the atmosphere. The ATV3 was built in Europe by Astrium leading a consortium of manufacturers. A large cylinder measuring about 10 meters long by 4.5 meters in diameter, the ATV3 comprises two main parts: a service module with the avionics and propulsion subsystems, and a pressurized cargo carrier.
Arianespace is the world’s leading launch service & solutions company, providing innovation to its customers since 1980. Backed by 21 shareholders and the European Space Agency, Arianespace offers an international workforce renowned for a culture of commitment and excellence. As of 23 March 2012, Arianespace had performed 205 Ariane launches (299 payloads), 26 Soyuz launches (24 at Baikonur with Starsem and 2 at the Guiana Space Center) and the first launch of Vega. It has a backlog of 24 Ariane 5, 15 Soyuz and 2 Vega launches, equal to more than three years of business.