The initial Ariane 5 for launch in 2012 completes its final assembly
Arianespace’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 for the orbiting of Europe’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is now complete following installation of its payload fairing – marking an important step as final preparations continue for the March 9 mission from French Guiana to service the International Space Station.
Integration of the 17-meter-tall launch vehicle component – which is designed to protect the ATV payload during its initial ascent through the atmosphere – was handled this week at the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building.
Europe’s third ATV is named after Italian physicist Edoardo Amaldi, and it will carry dry cargo, water, gas and propellant for delivery to the crewed orbital facility. The mission’s total lift performance is some 20,000 kg., including the ATV’s mass of more than 19,700 kg.
Utilizing an Ariane 5 ES version, the March 9 mission will lift off from Europe’s Spaceport at approximately 7:00 a.m. local time in French Guiana, based on the timing required for its rendezvous with the International Space Station. The precise moment is to be determined during the launch readiness review scheduled three days earlier (March 6). This review – which is held prior to each Arianespace mission – also will clear the way for Ariane 5’s rollout to the ELA-3 launch zone on March 7.
The Ariane 5’s mission with ATV Edoardo Amaldi is to last just over one hour, and it will include two burns of the launch vehicle’s EPS storable propellant upper stage – separated by a 42-minute ballistic coast phase.
This upcoming flight will follow Arianespace’s Ariane 5 launches of ATVs in February 2011 and March 2008. The ATV program is managed by the European Space Agency, with the spacecraft’s production performed by an Astrium-led industry consortium.