Ariane 5 is readied for its ATV mission following reinstallation of the payload fairing
Arianespace’s Ariane 5 with its Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) payload is complete once again after reinstallation of the launcher’s payload fairing this week at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The Ariane 5’s payload fairing is lowered into position over the ATV Edoardo Amaldi for a second time during activity in the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building.
The activity follows additional inspections required inside the ATV cargo carrier, which was decided after the Ariane 5’s initial payload fairing encapsulation had been completed in late February. In order to enable this unplanned inspection – ordered by the mission’s European Space Agency customer – launch team members removed the payload fairing while the Ariane 5 remained inside the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building. It was followed by the fairing’s second integration after the inspections were completed.
The ATV, named after Italian physicist and spaceflight pioneer Edoardo Amaldi, is now undergoing final checkout for the March 23 launch on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. Fitted with 6.6 metric tons of cargo, the ATV will serve as a resupply spacecraft and “tug” for the orbital station during several months.
In addition to a cargo composed of experiments, food, clothing, tools and spare parts, ATV Edoardo Amaldi also carries oxygen, air and water, along with propellants for its own propulsion systems and to refuel the International Space Station.
For the upcoming launch, Ariane 5’s total payload lift performance is 20,075 kg. – which includes 19,714 kg. for the ATV, making it the heaviest payload ever lofted by Arianespace’s workhorse launcher.
The ATV is a European Space Agency-led program, with the resupply spacecraft built by EADS’ Astrium business unit as the lead in a large European industrial consortium.