Launcher components arrive at the Spaceport for Ariane’s historic 200th mission
The milestone 200th Ariane for launch has been delivered to the Spaceport in French Guiana, where it will be readied for a February 15, 2011 liftoff with Europe’s second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to service the International Space Station.
The protective shipping container with the Ariane 5 ES launcher’s cryogenic core stage arrives at the Spaceport, pulled by a multi-purpose tug vehicle.
This is an Ariane 5 ES version of Arianespace’s heavy-lift launcher, and it will loft the ATV named after German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, placing it in orbit for a rendezvous with the International Space Station.
The Ariane 5 ES arrived in French Guiana this week aboard the MN Colibri, which is one of two sea-going roll-on/roll-off vessels used by Arianespace to transport launchers and related equipment from their European manufacturers to South America. After docking at Pariacabo Port, the Ariane 5 hardware was unloaded and moved by road to the Spaceport.
Arianespace’s February 2011 mission will mark the second ATV launch, following its successful orbiting of the ATV Jules Verne in 2008. These unmanned logistics spacecraft are part of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station’s operation and maintenance. All ATVs planned by Europe have been entrusted to Arianespace for launch, with six flights currently included in the company’s manifest.
To date, a total of 196 Ariane flights have been performed since the family of launch vehicles began operation in 1978. The 197th mission is scheduled for October 28, using an Ariane 5 ECA version to orbit the W3B and BSAT-3b telecommunications satellites.
Arianespace operates two versions of Ariane 5: the ES version for flights to low- and medium-Earth orbits; and Ariane 5 ECA for GTO (geostationary transfer orbit) missions.